The looters and smash-and-grab artists who are menacing retailers in California apparently have found a new target besides pharmacies and grocery stores.
They literally have become train robbers.
According to The Blaze, Union Pacific has threatened to relocate its rail operations out of Los Angeles County unless the authorities do more to stop the theft occurring on rail cars.
Adrian Guerrero, UP’s director of public affairs, recently wrote to LA County District Attorney George Gascón demanding “leadership” and “immediate action” on the thievery.
Guerrero, after pointing out his company’s role as an “economic engine” for the community and as a link in the ongoing supply-chain crisis, wrote that between December 2020 and December 2021 ralil theft increased 160 percent in LA County.
In some months it topped 200 percent, and last October, the rate spiked 356 percent.
Last week a reporter from the local CBS affiliate went to the scene of the crimes and posted what he saw on Twitter.
“There’s looted packages as far as the eye can see. Amazon packages, @UPS boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures, epi-pens. Cargo containers left busted open on trains,” reporter John Schreiber tweeted.
“Missing a package? Shipment delayed? Maybe your package is among the thousands we found discarded along the tracks.”
Guerrero noted that the cost of the thefts and vandalism just to UP totaled $5 million over the past year, exclusive of the losses suffered by its customers.
“Not only do these dramatic increases represent retail product thefts – they include increased assaults and armed robberies of UP employees performing their duties moving trains,” he noted.
In the last quarter of 2021, Guerrero added, bandits targeted 90 shipping containers each day.
He also pointed out that the LAPD and LA County Sheriff’s Department have made more than 100 arrests in such cases, and worked with UP to deter hundreds more cases of trespassing and vandalism.
Despite all those arrests, the DA’s office has never contacted UP about court proceedings for the suspects.
And that seems to be where the problem resides – as Gascón, who was backed for election in 2020 by leftist billionaire George Soros, has adopted soft-on-crime policies that allow the crooks to think there is no consequence or accountability for their crimes.
“Criminals are caught and arrested, turned over to local authorities for booking, arraigned before the local courts, charges are reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense, and the criminal is released after paying a nominal fine,” Guerrero wrote.
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“These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than twenty-four hours. Even with all the arrests made, the no-cash bail policy and extended timeframe for suspects to appear in court is causing re-victimization to UP by these same criminals.”
“In fact,” he added, “criminals boast to our officers that charges will be pled down to simple trespassing – which bears no serious consequence. Without any judicial deterrence or consequence, it is no surprise that over the past year UP has witnessed the significant increase in criminal rail theft described above.”
Guerrero added that UPS and FedEx diverted their business around LA County and UP likewise was considering “serious changes to our operating plans to avoid LA County.”
Guerrero concluded by saying the company understands the “well-intentioned social justice goals” of Gascón’s soft and woke approach to prosecuting such criminals, but UP needs the justice system to “hold these criminals accountable and, most important, help protect our employees and the critical local and national rail network.”
Gascón’s office said in a statement that it takes UP’s concerns “seriously” and that some cases have been filed. But many have been dropped because of “insufficient evidence.”
“We make charging decisions based on the evidence,” the statement said.
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