Thieves are apparently targeting trains like in the old West, stealing anything they can get their hands on, including at-home COVID-19 tests.
Forbes reported that a “surge in Wild West-style train robberies outside the busy ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has delayed retail shipments of everything from at-home Covid-19 tests, fishing lures and parcels from Amazon, REI and UPS.”
Union Pacific said thefts from their trains are up 160% in Los Angeles County over last year and that an average of 90 containers have been broken into every day over the past three months. The company estimated that these thefts have cost them $5 million in the past year, including, damage, losses, and claims, Forbes noted.
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Trains make for an easy target on the so-called Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile stretch of railbed that winds through Los Angeles’ lower-income neighborhoods and is easy to access. Thieves can break into stopped or slow-moving cars and pull a kind of hand brake, which slows the wheels. Sensors in the track read this as an equipment breakdown and stop or slow the train to a crawl. At that point, individuals can use bolt cutters to open up cars and grab items quickly. What they don’t want is left on the sides of the track to blow in the breeze and slowly rot in the southern California sun.
Forbes reported that the train thefts are the latest supply chain issue, causing delays in addition to the delays caused by a backlog at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.
Jessica Kahanek, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Railroads in Washington, told Forbes that railroad companies were concerned about the recent wave of thefts.
“Railroads are extremely concerned about this unlawful and dangerous behavior, which poses a significant safety risk to the public, rail employees and law enforcement,” she said. “Railroads and their police forces are taking action to combat the criminal activity including increasing their presence where thefts have been a persistent challenge, particularly in the Los Angeles area.”
Union Pacific also said that it has increased the number of private police officers patrolling its 275 miles of track in the wake of the thefts and that more than 100 people were arrested in the past three months.
The railroad company wrote a letter to the Los Angeles district attorney in December asking him to take action against the “spiraling crisis of organized and opportunistic criminal rail theft.” The company added that those arrested for theft often have their charges reduced to misdemeanors or petty offenses and can pay a fine and spend less than 24 hours in jail.
“Criminals boast to our officers that there is no consequence,” Union Pacific spokesperson Robynn Tysver told Forbes.
The Daily Wire has reported on numerous other issues that have come from supply chain issues created by the pandemic and not helped by Biden administration policies. Grocery stores continue to experience shortages, while a potato shortage has led to a global shortage of French fries and potato chips. Supply chain issues have also caused IKEA to increase prices by 9%.
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