By: Denise Simon | Founders Code
Sadly and factually, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and District Attorneys have been silent on all this and crime across the country.
Michelle Wilde bought a piece of sand art during a visit to Jerome, Ariz., earlier this month. Rather than carry it home, she had the shopkeeper ship the $145 frame to her.
Instead of arriving at her home in Everett, Wash., the package ended up next to a railroad track in East Los Angeles. The frame was gone. The box remained.
It was among thousands of boxes recently found littered along Union Pacific Corp. UNP -2.20% tracks in the middle of Los Angeles. Thieves had broken into the train cars and made off with items shipped by Dr. Martens, Harbor Freight Tools and small businesses alike. The scene has set off finger-pointing between the railroad, local officials and police about who is to blame and how to stop a modern twist on one of the country’s oldest crimes.
“Why are people breaking into [railcars] and why is no one doing anything?” Ms. Wilde said, when she was contacted by a Wall Street Journal reporter to inform her of the fate of her package. “We’re like in year 13 of a pandemic so nothing surprises me about human behavior.”
Union Pacific said it has seen a 160% jump in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles since December 2020, including sharper increases in the months leading up to Christmas, when trailers are loaded with inventory bound for stores or gifts shipped to homes. The total losses to Union Pacific, with a market capitalization of $155 billion, have come to $5 million over the past year. That doesn’t include losses tallied by customers shipping on its rails.
Train robberies date to the dawn of railroads, and Union Pacific has had its share of famous heists. In 1899, Butch Cassidy’s gang robbed the Union Pacific Overland Flyer No. 1 as it passed through Wyoming. The group stopped the train and blew up its safe. A posse was sent out in pursuit of the bandits.
In other parts of the country, thieves occasionally plunder everything from alcohol to appliances from freight trains that either stop or crawl through areas. The railroads combat the problem with their own police forces. Union Pacific has more than 200 police officers, but they must patrol thousands of miles of track across 23 states.