Union Pacific, one of the nation’s largest railroad companies, says it may no longer operate in Los Angeles County after the spike in thefts, which it blames the lax prosecution of crimes. The containers and trains are locked, but it is possible to break in.
Union Pacific said in a letter to the Los Angeles District Attorney last month that it saw a 160% year-over-year increase in LA County theft. The company claims that a special December 2020 directive issued by prosecutor George Gascón that changed how minor offenses are prosecuted contributed to the increase.
Union Pacific said in its letter it made more than 100 arrests in the last three months of the year of “active criminals who vandalize our trains” in conjunction with the LA Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff. But Union Pacific, which has its own police department with jurisdiction over the 52,000 miles of tracks it owns, said the problem won’t go away even as it expanded its security capabilities and started working more closely with local law enforcement. After being arrested, individuals are released within 24 hours, the report said.
Crime is associated with an increase in poverty, which has increased during the pandemic. The county’s directive was designed to combat social problems resulting from felony convictions, such as problems with employment, housing, education, government benefits and immigration.
“Studies show that prosecution of the offenses that cause the majority of crimes have minimal or even negative long-term effects on public safety,” Gascón said when the directive was issued.
“Our office is committed to working with law enforcement to ensure collective safety in Los Angeles County’s sprawling infrastructure, whether at our ports or on railroad tracks,” said Alex Bastian, special counsel to District Attorney Gascón. when he was reached for comment.
“Some of the cases brought to our office by Union Pacific have been filed, such as burglary and grand theft, while others have been dismissed due to insufficient evidence. We are making charges based on the evidence. Our office is addressing Union Pacific’s concerns seriously and hopes to discuss this issue more in the coming weeks,” he added.
“While we understand the well-intentioned goals of social justice policy, we need our justice system to support our collaborative efforts with local law enforcement agencies, hold these criminals accountable and, most importantly, our employees and the critical local and state railroads. to help protect the network,” Guerrero said.
The Association of American Railroads expressed concern about the increase in crime.
“In coordination with local law and federal law enforcement partners as appropriate, the industry is committed to taking all necessary steps to address this criminal behavior,” spokesman Ted Greener said in a statement.