Photo: DAVID SWANSON / EFE
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom was on the Union Pacific tracks Thursday near downtown Los Angeles., where in recent weeks there have been alarming images of garbage caused by the theft of merchandise from the trains that circulate there.
Thousands upon thousands of empty boxes and product remnants left behind by thieves, including packaging from companies like Amazon and FedEx, have become an image of shame that has gone around the world and that portrays several problems at once such as the rampant rise in theft and the supply chain crisis.
The governor set the example by joining the cleaning forces that began to remove the garbage left on the train tracks and their surroundings where a derailment occurred over the weekend, perhaps associated with the dump. Newsom said the people involved in the robbery should be criminally prosecuted.
“What I see is what you see. I see what you guys have been reporting,” Newsom told reporters. “I see what people are seeing, asking me: ‘What the hell is going on?’. Looks like a third world country“.
Union Pacific representatives present at the rally said they have arrested dozens of people for merchandise theft in recent weeks, but are still waiting for suspects to go to court.
They indicated that since December 2020 theft on trains has increased 160% and that around 90 containers are at risk of theft per day in Los Angeles County, where thieves have been taking advantage of trains being stopped due to problems associated with the supply chain crisis.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Union Pacific – which has the right to employ its own police to guard its trains – has reduced its number of security personnel and that has also affected. The company, for its part, alleges that the office of Los Angeles prosecutor George Gascón has not been sufficiently aggressive with the thieves.
The California Highway Patrol, charged with providing added security against thieves, reported today that its cargo theft agents and Vernon Police recovered four stolen containers with approximately $900,000 worth of merchandise.
Increasing surveillance at sites like the one Newsom visited in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood appears to be an urgent measure, only in the county there are about 300 miles of Union Pacific track and in California it is more than 3,000 miles.
Newsom, accompanied by Supervisor Hilda Solís and transportation and police authorities, mentioned a proposal to grant $255 million to police forces over the next three years to create a unit dedicated to fighting theft of goods, cars and trains.