Dozens of people have been arrested after Los Angeles police cracked the case of alleged railroad cargo thefts.
The investigation started more than a year when the Union Pacific Railroad Company reported that more than 90 containers had been broken into every day, KTLA reported.
After conducting surveillance and executing 49 search warrants, officials were able to recover $18 million worth of merchandise allegedly taken from railroad cargo containers. The containers were on trains destined for points across the country, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said, according to KTLA.
Eyewitnesses had told the authorities that people would climb aboard the freight trains and take hundreds of packages — everything from family portraits to holiday gifts to medication and COVID-19 tests, officials said.
USA Today reported in January that dozens of handguns were also taken from a train destined for Tennessee.
“It was a joke because these guys are hanging onto the trains while they’re running or they’re stopped. They have tools, they’re opening up the containers, throwing everything out. It was like a free for all,” Robert Vega, whose business is nearby the railway, told KTLA.
KTTV and other media outlets showed images of what the alleged thieves left behind, with boxes and packages strewn all over railroad tracks.
The stolen items were all taken to four storage locations in Los Angeles that also contained drugs and weapons, police said.
Twenty-two people were arrested, the LAPD said in a news release.
Not only were arrests made, but Union Pacific also installed more security fencing, lighting and both personal and video surveillance where the trains sit on the tracks.
The LAPD also established its Train Burglary Task Force under the department’s Commerical Crimes Division, as a result of the investigation.
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