LOS ANGELES - By now, many have seen the photos of the leftovers of stolen packages strewn across railroad tracks in Los Angeles. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of the supply chain, railroad company Union Pacific is blaming its tough year in part due to repeat offenders, and by extension, the policies of LA County District Attorney George Gascón.
According to statistics from Union Pacific, train container theft increased by 160% from 2020 to 2021 in LA County. More than 90 containers were broken into every day on average.
In a letter to the DA's officer dated this past December, Union Pacific General Director Adrian Guerrero urged Gascón to reconsider one of his special directives, which they believe has aided the spike. Special Directive 20-07 was signed in December 2020, and dismisses certain misdemeanors like trespassing, before arraignment.
These individuals are generally caught and released back onto the streets in less than 24 hours," Guerrero wrote. "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."
The spike in container theft has cost UP an estimated $5 million, according to Guerrero's estimates.
In a statement to Fox 11, Gascón's office had this to say:
"Our office is committed to working with law enforcement to ensure collective safety across Los Angeles County’s sprawling infrastructure, whether it’s at our ports or on railroad tracks. 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. Our office takes Union Pacific’s concerns seriously and hopes to discuss this issue more in the coming weeks."
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