People stealing off of freights in Los Angeles

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What, they don't lock the containers?

Could this also be due to the loaded trains sitting around too long? It would obviously be much harder to open a container and steal stuff from a moving train. I wonder if the trains aren't moving because of things going wrong with "precision scheduled railroading."

This must also be a problem for truckers, too.

On the other hand, this is the New York Post, not exactly the gold standard for journalism.
 

Saddleshoes

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I cannot comment on the present LA train thief but...
There was a time that the same thing was happening in Chicago. It was an inside operation. Someone in the railroad routing department would know the cargo inside of specific cars. They would pass the info on to their confederates that would spot the car in question and jump on pop the lock and throw the cargo out. Often this as accomplished as the car was moving through the yard. Then others would grab the loot and run off. The favorite target in those days was cigarettes. When the system worked right these guys would make off with a pick-up truck of cigarettes in less than 15 minutes time.
 

Cal

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I saw it on the news this evening, apparently people are doing it while the train is in motion (albeit slowly as it's coming into/exiting a yard)
 
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What, they don't lock the containers?
They use pin seals, the bad guys carry bolt cutters.
Could this also be due to the loaded trains sitting around too long? It would obviously be much harder to open a container and steal stuff from a moving train. I wonder if the trains aren't moving because of things going wrong with "precision scheduled railroading."
This started in the trench and has spread throughout California. The video I have seen show the trains moving slowly.
This must also be a problem for truckers, too.
Yes, and no. Cargo theft is a bit more tricky with a truck. The driver is only 53 feet away. The trailer has a padlock and a seal. (Which may be plastic) Theft from trucks is a by request thing. You want they get it.
On the other hand, this is the New York Post, not exactly the gold standard for journalism.
Might not be golden standard but this is a real problem and it’s get worse ever day.

This problem is a snatch and grab by homeless people that has gotten organized to a major problem. We in the cargo hauling business don’t like to talk about the number of trailers that go missing ever year.

Welcome to the new lifestyle post pandemic.
 
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This problem is a snatch and grab by homeless people that has gotten organized to a major problem. We in the cargo hauling business don’t like to talk about the number of trailers that go missing ever year.

Welcome to the new lifestyle post pandemic.
To put the blame on the homeless is a simplistic and, IMHO wrong, belief. It is far more than the homeless.
 
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To put the blame on the homeless is a simplistic and, IMHO wrong, belief. It is far more than the homeless.
Sorry but that how it started. It’s got organized now, but it started with the people live in tents looking for something of value to sell for food/shelter. The amount of stuff laying on the ground around the tracks show the nature of the crime. If it’s not useful to the person, and you can’t easily sell it. It sitting on the ground next to the tracks.
 

tgstubbs1

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Sorry but that how it started. It’s got organized now, but it started with the people live in tents looking for something of value to sell for food/shelter. The amount of stuff laying on the ground around the tracks show the nature of the crime. If it’s not useful to the person, and you can’t easily sell it. It sitting on the ground next to the tracks.
I wonder if it's a little like those mass shoplifting riots at Walgreens?
 
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Sorry but that how it started. It’s got organized now, but it started with the people live in tents looking for something of value to sell for food/shelter. The amount of stuff laying on the ground around the tracks show the nature of the crime. If it’s not useful to the person, and you can’t easily sell it. It sitting on the ground next to the tracks.
It's not only some homeless who steal to sell. Gangs, addicts (of both alcohol and drugs - with jobs or without), the very poor who sacrifice food and necessities to avoid being homeless, the greedy, the opportunists who see an easy way to make more, etc. Even the rich steal - they just don't do it so crudely but are probably more likely to get caught because they want to steal so much.
 
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According to the UP approximately 90 containers are compromised per day in the Los Angeles area. This is up substantially in the past couple of years.

There has also been assaults on railroad staff, which is even more concerning.

This article has an interview with one of the perpetrators:
 

cirdan

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What, they don't lock the containers?

Could this also be due to the loaded trains sitting around too long? It would obviously be much harder to open a container and steal stuff from a moving train. I wonder if the trains aren't moving because of things going wrong with "precision scheduled railroading."

This must also be a problem for truckers, too.

On the other hand, this is the New York Post, not exactly the gold standard for journalism.
I think it's a bigger problem for railroads than it is for truckers and as truck drivers generally stay close to their trucks even during breaks. The railroads need to get a grip on this problem as otherwise shippers might switch to trucks.

I remember back in the UK in the 1980s there was a problem with thieves jumping onto auto racks while they were sitting in the yard and breaking into newly manufactured cars to steal the radios, often causing a lot of damage in so doing. At that time auto radios still had significant resale value. I don't recall if or how the railroad addressed the problem.
 

AFS1970

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While the general attitude of lawlessness may have something to do with said leadership, this being a railroad issue adds a complicated jurisdictional layer into the mix. With the exception of Amtrak, the big railroad police departments are privately owned and operated under a mix of federal and state laws. They are fully sworn police officers but are also spread very thin, as most a very small departments covering very large areas. They do rely on backup from local departments, but they are not given any special priority.
 
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In the article I linked to, the UP places the blame squarely on the LAPD and the prosecutor’s office.
And the LAPD points the finger right back on UP, saying they're not doing enough, either. Another consequence of corporate cost-cutting, I suspect.

The article also quotes a UP spokesman as saying about 90 containers a day are "compromised." How many total containers a day move through the ports of LA/Long Beach?

According to the Port of Los Angeles, imports account for about 400,000 TEU per month. I couldn't find figures for the Port of Long Beach, but I think it's of the same order of magnitude. So roughly 25 -26,000 TEU of containers carrying imported stuff passes through the ports each day. It's not clear how many of those containers end up on railcars or in railyards, but I would suspect that it's a lot more than 90. So, in other, in the big picture view of things, this may only be a relatively minor problem, which can probably be easily solved by fencing off the tracks and railyards and hiring some more railroad cops. And paying a little extra for container locks that can't be circumvented with bolt cutters. While there's always a chance that your delivery from Amazon might be affected, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

It does make for some good visuals for TV news and hyperventilating demonization of the homeless and moral panics about "lawlessness," however.
 
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I hate when people generalize about the homeless. It’s as bad as generalizing about other groups of people.
I haven't seen any generalizations in this thread. What I have seen is someone who has some inside knowledge make the following factual allegation: "This problem is a snatch and grab by homeless people that has gotten organized to a major problem." If that is incorrect then please let us know.
 

jis

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I think the fact is that there are some snatch and grab activities indulged in by some homeless people. As for whether that was the primary proximate driver of the evolution of an organized crime activity is a matter of conjecture that needs to be validated beyond the statement of an opinion, in my opinion of course. 🤷‍♂️
 
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I think the fact is that there are some snatch and grab activities indulged in by some homeless people. As for whether that was the primary proximate driver of the evolution of an organized crime activity is a matter of conjecture that needs to be validated beyond the statement of an opinion, in my opinion of course. 🤷‍♂️
It was not clear to me if the allegation is that the homeless people have organized to some degree or if organized crime has stepped in. If it is the latter, I agree that there is no information as to how it transitioned. My assumption is that organized crime would have seen the opportunity and decided that they could do it too - and better. Kind of like McDonald's opening next to a local hamburger joint.
 

tgstubbs1

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It's kind of ridiculous that they don't make more effort to stop it, given the dollar amount of the losses.
 
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Homeless folk organized, a joke. Not that some aren’t guilty. I’m sure they are. A look at the scoundrels that participate in ransacking department stores during civil protests or other unruly times and you can see what happens when a small group start breaking into train cars. It exploded‘s into larger group of vandals, especially in the area where this is taking place. Homeless sifting through the debris get all the blame.
 

MikefromCrete

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The whole just shows the lack of security in the railroad business. Trains are often sitting around for hours in an unsecured location. If a high value intermodal train is stopped somewhere you would think a railroad police car could be sent to the scene. If might be enough to discourage any problems. At least if a raid takes place the railroad police officer could notify local police.
UP seems particularly lacking in security in the L.A. area. Have you ever seen photos of locomotives used on locals in L.A.? They are covered in graffiti! You would think the railroad would care about people painting over their locomotives! It's a wonder the locomotives aren't stripped for parts. Why would UP leave locomotives unguarded overnight?
As far as blaming the homeless for this, I doubt if homeless people would be organized enough for such an activity. It's more likely criminal gangs like the ones that invade high-price stores.
 

joelkfla

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The whole just shows the lack of security in the railroad business. Trains are often sitting around for hours in an unsecured location. If a high value intermodal train is stopped somewhere you would think a railroad police car could be sent to the scene. If might be enough to discourage any problems. At least if a raid takes place the railroad police officer could notify local police.
UP seems particularly lacking in security in the L.A. area. Have you ever seen photos of locomotives used on locals in L.A.? They are covered in graffiti! You would think the railroad would care about people painting over their locomotives! It's a wonder the locomotives aren't stripped for parts. Why would UP leave locomotives unguarded overnight?
As far as blaming the homeless for this, I doubt if homeless people would be organized enough for such an activity. It's more likely criminal gangs like the ones that invade high-price stores.
There was a statement that sometimes the thieves are stopping moving trains.

I'm not sure how that works. I assume if somebody jumped out in front of a slow-moving train, the engineer would hit the brake. Obviously, a lone conductor is not about to challenge a mob of a couple dozen. By the time cops could be summoned, the gang would have completed their dirty work and disappeared.
 
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The whole just shows the lack of security in the railroad business. Trains are often sitting around for hours in an unsecured location. If a high value intermodal train is stopped somewhere you would think a railroad police car could be sent to the scene. If might be enough to discourage any problems. At least if a raid takes place the railroad police officer could notify local police.
UP seems particularly lacking in security in the L.A. area. Have you ever seen photos of locomotives used on locals in L.A.? They are covered in graffiti! You would think the railroad would care about people painting over their locomotives! It's a wonder the locomotives aren't stripped for parts. Why would UP leave locomotives unguarded overnight?
As far as blaming the homeless for this, I doubt if homeless people would be organized enough for such an activity. It's more likely criminal gangs like the ones that invade high-price stores.
I see a lot of graffiti on freights using the CN tracks adjacent to my line. I do think that there is potentially too little security on freights, judging from the videos online of people hitching rides on them, not just in the USA.
 
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