Representative Tom Tiffany (R., Wis.) and other lawmakers are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to help “crack down” on criminals involved in a “wave of ‘Wild West style’ train robberies” in a Los Angeles train yard.
Last week, photojournalist John Schreiber shared video of Union Pacific’s train tracks in LA showing “looted packages as far as the eye can see.” The stolen goods included Amazon packages, UPS boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures and EpiPens, the photojournalist said.
I’m told by law enforcement these @UPS bags are especially sought after by thieves opening cargo containers… they are often full of boxes with merchandise bound for residential addresses. More valuable than say, a cargo container full of low value bulky items like toilet paper. pic.twitter.com/Tj5bQNIeby
— John Schreiber (@johnschreiber) January 13, 2022
In a Wednesday letter to Garland, Tiffany noted that the White House has blamed supply chain disruptions for “increasingly bare store shelves and skyrocketing consumer prices” but that the problem is a “direct result” of the Biden administration’s policies and is “now being complicated further by what many Americans see as the collective decision of officials like you and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon to turn a blind eye to criminal activity.”
Tiffany called on Garland to use Justice Department resources to “enforce our laws and crack down on these modern-day outlaws.”
On Thursday, Representative Michelle Steel (R.,Calif.) led a group of 14 members of Congress in sending a similar letter to Garland requesting that the Justice Department help fight crime on LA railroads.
Steel said that because many of the stolen goods are not just delivered in California, but nationwide, the FBI and DOJ “play a vital role in federally prosecuting the epidemic of robberies on all freight transportation.”
“Should this criminal activity continue, access to PPE and other important items may be scarce,” the group’s letter warns. “Action is needed, and a continued lack of urgency will lead to further crime and delays of necessary items to consumers.”
Last week, Union Pacific called on the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to reconsider Special Directive 20-07, which allows a number of misdemeanor cases to be declined or dismissed before arraignment unless “factors for considerations” are present.
A special adviser to district attorney Gascon told Fox News: “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,” special adviser Alex Bastian added.
Union Pacific says it is working with the Los Angeles Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol to address the thefts, crimes which the company’s state director of public affairs called “incredibly disappointing and frustrating,” Fox News reported.
UP has some 1,600 employees in Los Angeles County and has its own police department with primary jurisdiction over crimes committed on the railroad, the company’s website says. It estimates more than 90 packages are compromised per day, resulting in more than $5 million in damages to UP alone in 2021, not counting damages to customers or consumers.