The Union Pacific railway company has threatened to move its operations out of Los Angeles County over the lax law enforcement approach to brazen robberies of the shipping containers the company is responsible for moving through its distribution network.
A video posted to social media went viral last week that shows how criminals are sifting through containers in the county and are leaving tens of thousands of damaged packages littered around railcars.
Union Pacific wrote to L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón to demand that prosecutors do something to end the “spiraling crisis” of organized theft from railway containers. The letter said that more than 90 large containers are currently being broken into every day.
The letter went on to say that Union Pacific has seen an increase in rail theft of over 160 percent since December 2020, with some months seeing increases of more than 200 percent. Last October saw a rise in thefts of 356 percent over October 2020. The company told Gascón that the increased thefts regularly involve assaults and armed robberies of railway employees.
The company complained that even when law enforcement officers catch and arrest thieves, their charges are reduced to petty misdemeanor offenses like simple trespassing. Under the county’s no-cash bail policies, alleged criminals are often back on the streets in less than 24 hours.
The letter says that multiple companies that use Union Pacific for transportation services, including UPS and FedEx, are actively looking to divert their business away from Los Angeles. Union Pacific acknowledges and cautions the D.A. that such drastic changes in distribution will adversely impact the local economy and the national supply chain.
Gascón’s office replied by saying it is committed to the safety of L.A. County’s infrastructure and said that many theft cases are not prosecuted due to “insufficient evidence.” The response went on to say that prosecutorial decisions are “based on the evidence.”
Meanwhile, Union Pacific has maintained that prosecutors have not contacted any court proceedings in more than 100 cases of arrests that occurred as robberies were being conducted.