Union Pacific crews worked to clear the tracks on Sunday, Jan. 16, a day after a derailment rumbled through the train tracks in Lincoln Heights â near an area where thousands of empty boxes were left behind by cargo thieves.
Thieves have looted cargo containers on trains near downtown Los Angeles for months, taking packages belonging to people across the United States and leaving the tracks covered in discarded boxes.
It was unclear whether the derailment was the result of debris left behind by cargo thieves, but video from the scene showed the floor littered with empty boxes from companies including UPS and Amazon.
The packages come from retailers including Amazon, REI and others, CBSLA reported Thursday. The sea of ââdebris includes items that the thieves apparently didn’t think were valuable enough to take.
“At this time, there is no estimated time for completion (of the derailment cleanup) and the cause remains under investigation,” Union Pacific spokeswoman Robynn Tysver told City News Service. . “No one was hurt.”
The derailment happened around 4 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of San Pablo Street and Valley Boulevard, which was then blocked indefinitely, according to USC, which has its nearby health sciences campus.
A total of 17 cars derailed, Union Pacific told KTLA.
Union Pacific has asked the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute anyone arrested for these crimes.
“Some cases brought to our office by Union Pacific have been dismissed, such as burglary and grand larceny, while others have been denied due to insufficient evidence,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement provided to ABC7. âWe make charging decisions based on evidence. Our office takes Union Pacific’s concerns seriously and hopes to discuss this issue further in the coming weeks.
Chaotic scenes have been observed on the train tracks in recent weeks.
Last week, while CBSLA cameras were on the scene, a person was seen making off with a container used to hold small packages, and a Union Railroad police officer Pacific was spotted chasing two other people who were apparently going through packages.
The scene was the same in November, when NBC4 showed thousands of boxes thrown along lanes lined with homeless encampments northeast of downtown in the Lincoln Park area.
Union Pacific said in a statement to CBSLA that the railroad is concerned about the increase in cargo flights in California.
âWe have increased the number of Union Pacific Special Agents on patrol, and we have used and explored additional technologies to help us combat this criminal activity. We will also continue to work with our local law enforcement partners and elected leaders,â the railroad said.
Amazon said it was directing investigations to the police. The United Parcel Service declined to comment on cargo theft investigations, but said it was cooperating with authorities.
“The safety of our customers’ and employees’ assets is our top priority,” UPS said in a statement.
The retail supply chain has been plagued with issues amid the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
As the COVID-19 outbreak reached halfway through its first year, in the summer of 2020 online shopping skyrocketed as consumers could no longer go out to eat, go to the movies or a baseball game, or even travel using their disposable income to repair homes, create offices and home gyms, and invest in electronic entertainment.
This led to an increase in cargo, during which the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach regularly broke container records.
But this increase has also nearly crippled the supply chain, creating a massive backlog of shipped goods.
The twin ports worked for months to reduce this backlog, which cluttered the docks with gigantic piles of cargo containers and forced ships to wait days or even weeks before they could dock. Container ship backups and other issues have caused retail shortages and thrust both ports into the national spotlight.
Officials from President Biden’s administration, as well as Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, have been involved in efforts to resolve and resolve the issues. Port staff and federal officials, said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield, met through Zoom meetings held three times a week. The longshoremen’s union, terminal operators and ocean carriers also participated in discussions on how to reduce the bottleneck in the supply chain.
The collaborations have led to extended hours of operation, a new vessel queuing system and fees imposed on companies whose import containers linger at marine terminals.
Ports, however, have repeatedly delayed implementing the fee, which was originally scheduled to go into effect Nov. 1. The fees, if implemented, will start at $100 per container, increasing by $100 per container each day.
The ports of LA and Long Beach are also expected to impose a similar fee on empty containers that remain in the terminals for at least nine days. These charges, which both harbor commissions must agree to, are expected to begin on January 30.
There were more than 72,000 empty containers at Los Angeles marine terminals and yards near the docks, port officials said last week. They said their goal was to bring the number of empties down to 50,000 by the end of this month.
Staff writer Donna Littlejohn, The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.