Train Derails Near Site of LA Cargo Thefts

Union Pacific says 17 cars came off tracks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2022 11:30 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2022 6:25 PM CST
Thieves Are Feasting on Cargo Trains in Los Angeles
Shredded boxes and packages are seen at a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Ringo HW Chiu)

(Newser) Update: Crews made railroad repairs in Los Angeles on Monday after a train derailed near the location where thieves have been raiding cargo containers, leaving the tracks littered with emptied boxes of packaged goods sent by retailers. It wasn't immediately clear if the derailment that happened Saturday was caused by the debris left behind by thieves in the Lincoln Heights area near downtown LA. Union Pacific said the cause of the derailment was under investigation. The derailment caused 17 train cars to go off the tracks, Union Pacific said in a statement. No injuries were reported. Our story from Jan. 14 follows:

Thieves have been raiding cargo containers aboard trains nearing downtown Los Angeles for months, taking packages belonging to people across the US and leaving the tracks blanketed with discarded boxes, per the AP. The packages are from retailers including Amazon, REI, and others, CBS Los Angeles reports. The sea of debris left behind includes items that the thieves apparently didn't think were valuable enough to take. While CBS cameras were on the scene, one person was spotted running off with a container used to hold small packages, and a Union Pacific railroad police officer was spotted pursuing two other people who were apparently going through packages.

The scene was the same in November, when NBC4 showed thousands of boxes discarded along the tracks lined with homeless encampments northeast of downtown in the Lincoln Park area. Passing trains carried containers with doors wide open and packages tumbling out, NBC4 reported. Video showed two men, one holding what looked like bolt cutters, walking along the tracks, the station said. Union Pacific said in a statement to CBS that the railroad was concerned about increased cargo thefts in California.

"We have increased the number of Union Pacific special agents on patrol, and we have utilized and explored additional technologies to help us combat this criminal activity," the railroad said. "We also will continue to work with our local law-enforcement partners and elected leaders." Amazon said it was directing inquiries to police. United Parcel Service declined to comment on investigations into the cargo thefts but said it was cooperating with authorities.

(Read more theft stories.)

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