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Cargo Theft Cleanup: Tracks in East LA Are Looking Different These Days

"Conductors have been threatened by guys with guns and crow bars and everything else," he said.

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After a slice of track in East LA made international news over rampant cargo theft, and NBCLA's coverage starting back in November, there is a lot of change that has been happening.

Along the tracks in East LA – where today one of the miles-long trains sat for nearly an hour -- there is a noticeable difference: not one open container, not one opened box of stolen property. That's a huge difference compared to November, when the tracks were completely littered with open boxes and packages.

"Before you did your interview, they had been breaking into the trains there for at least a year," an anonymous Union Pacific engineer told NBCLA.

The engineer is blowing the whistle on what he says is a company making record profits at the cost of consumers with lost cargo.

"The company refused to do anything about it," the engineer said.

More people are ordering more than ever online. California is the top targeted state where cargo is stolen, and it's not random -- it's organized. John Cadiz Klemack reports Jan. 19, 2022.


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He asked us to blur his image and alter his voice to protect his job.

"Nobody wants to deal with it," he said.

Union Pacific has credited NBCLA with bringing light to the situation on the tracks with promises to make improvements in security – while blaming local politicians for a lack of enforcement against those caught stealing.

On Friday, crews were seen still putting up new surveillance cameras in the area. There was also new fencing in some parts, and something entirely new: concrete walls replacing larger areas of broken fences that once surrounded the track.

"Until you guys ran the story, they didn’t even have but a couple railroad police in la to cover the whole area," the employee said.

The engineer applauds what’s been done and says he’s seen thieves disappearing from this area of LA, but says it’s only pushing them into other areas that have yet to get the high security treatment.

"Conductors have been threatened by guys with guns and crow bars and everything else," he said.

NBCLA reached out to Union Pacific for more insight into what it is we’ve been seeing out here. So far, they haven’t responded.

Another video showed a thief taking a crowbar up to an employee on the tracks. John Cadiz Klemack reports Jan. 18, 2022.
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