After a slice of runway in East LA made international news on rampant cargo theft and NBCLA coverage starting in November, there are a lot of changes that have happened.
Along the tracks in East LA – where today one of the mile-long trains sat for almost an hour – there is a noticeable difference: not an open container, not an open box of stolen goods. That’s a huge difference from November, when the tracks were completely littered with open boxes and packages.
“Before you did your maintenance, they had been breaking into trains there for at least a year,” an unnamed Union Pacific engineer told NBCLA.
The engineer denounces what he says is a company making record profits at the expense of consumers with lost cargo.
“The company refused to do anything about it,” the engineer said.
More people are ordering online than ever before. California is the most targeted state where cargo is stolen, and it’s not random – it’s organized. Report by John Cadiz Klemack on January 19, 2022.
He asked us to blur his image and alter his voice to protect his work.
“Nobody wants to deal with it,” he said.
Union Pacific credited NBCLA for bringing the situation on the tracks to light with promises of improved safety – while blaming local politicians for lack of enforcement against those caught stealing.
On Friday, crews were seen installing new surveillance cameras in the area. There were also new fences in parts, and something entirely new: concrete walls replacing larger areas of broken fences that once surrounded the track.
“Until you tell the story, they didn’t even have a few railroad cops in LA to cover the whole area,” the employee said.
The engineer applauds what has been done and says he has seen thieves disappear from this area of Los Angeles, but says it only pushes them into other areas that have not yet received the treatment of high security.
“The drivers were threatened by guys with guns and crowbars and everything,” he said.
NBCLA contacted Union Pacific to learn more about what we saw here. So far, they have not responded.
Another video showed a thief bringing a crowbar to an employee on the tracks. Report by John Cadiz Klemack on January 18, 2022.