A top official with Union Pacific revealed last week that the company could move its rail operations from Los Angeles County unless law enforcement stops thieves from raiding shipping containers.
Last week, a viral video showed how thieves are pillaging through shipping containers in the infamous Lincoln Heights neighborhood. Tens of thousands of destroyed packages littered the area around the rail tracks.
What are the details?
Adrian Guerrero, general director of public affairs, sent a letter to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón demanding his office stop the "spiraling crisis of organized and opportunistic criminal rail theft."
Shockingly, Guerrero revealed that "over 90 containers are compromised per day."
"Since December 2020, UP has experienced an over 160% increase in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles County. In several months during that period, the increase from the previous year surpassed 200%. In October 2021 alone, the increase was 356% over compared to October 2020," Guerrero explained. "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."
However, the actual crimes are not the only issue. Guerrero explained that far-left criminal justice policies have exacerbated the problem and emboldened criminals.
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.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, 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.
According to Guerrero, UPS and FedEx, which utilize Union Pacific's rail services, are seeking to divert their business away from Los Angeles County — and Union Pacific may join them.
"Like our customers, UP is now contemplating serious changes to our operating plans to avoid Los Angeles County," Guerrero wrote, adding that such a "drastic change" would significantly impact the national supply chain.
Guerrero went on to say that Union Pacific understands "the well-intended social justice goals" of Gascón, but demanded he "hold these criminals accountable."
How did Gascón respond?
In response, Gascón's office claimed they are committed to ensuring the safety of Los Angeles County's infrastructure. In a statement, the office also said many cases are not prosecuted due to "insufficient evidence."
"Some cases presented to our office by Union Pacific have been filed, such as burglary and grand theft, while others have been declined due to insufficient evidence. We make charging decisions based on the evidence," the statement said.
However, Guerrero explained in his letter to Gascón that despite over 100 criminals having been arrested while actively vandalizing trains, Union Pacific "has not been contacted for any court proceedings."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the thefts are occuring in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood.