Months after a firefighter's helmet shipped from Texas was abandoned and cast aside by thieves raiding cargo trains in LA County, NBCLA was able to track down the son of the firefighter and get him his dad's helmet back.
“They said the news in Los Angeles was trying to get ahold of me. And I was surprised, I said, 'what for?' And they said, 'well they found your dad’s helmet,'" said Marcus Johnson, the son of a firefighter trying to get back his father's long lost helmet.
Johnson said he used UPS to ship the helmet, along with some other personal stuff that belonged to his late father, back in August from his parents home in Texas to his home in Oregon. It never made it because of ongoing rail thefts.
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NBCLA found the helmet back in November, and reached out to the Fort Worth Fire Department. They said it was likely a retirement gift.
Union Pacific said it would attempt to return personal effects found near the tracks to their owners during recent clean ups. Everything else would be donated.
Johnson said UPS offered to pay him for what was lost.
“You can’t put a value on sentimental things like that," Johnson said. “That was 30, 35 years of my dad’s life.”
"It went back and forth, and finally I got fed up and hung up on them and I haven’t heard from them since.”
Since NBCLA's reporting, cargo theft on train tracks in Los Angeles has gotten worldwide attention. Union Pacific has promised more security, and NBCLA spotted crews setting up cameras near the tracks. New fencing can also be found, with barbed wire, and on Thursday, a Union Pacific police officer was seen watching the trains go by.
One of the trains had an opened container: proof the thieves are still at it.
The LA City Attorney said they’re working with Union Pacific and could have some cases handed over to them for possible prosecution as early as next week.