Months after a firefighter’s helmet shipped from Texas was abandoned and discarded by thieves raiding freight trains in LA County, NBCLA was able to track down the firefighter’s son and return his father’s helmet to him.
“They said the news in Los Angeles was trying to reach 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 retrieve his father’s long-lost helmet.
Johnson said he used UPS to ship the helmet, along with other personal items that belonged to his late father, in August from his parents’ home in Texas to his home in Oregon. He never made it because of the ongoing rail robberies.
NBCLA located the helmet in November and contacted the Fort Worth Fire Department. They said it was probably a retirement present.
Union Pacific said it would attempt to return belongings found near the tracks to their owners during recent cleanups. Everything else would be given.
Johnson said UPS offered to pay him for what was lost.
“You can’t put value on sentimental things like that,” Johnson said. “It was 30, 35 years of my father’s life.”
Another video showed a thief bringing a crowbar to an employee on the tracks. Report by John Cadiz Klemack on January 18, 2022.
“It went back and forth, and eventually I got fed up and hung up on them and haven’t heard from them since.”
Since the NBCLA report, the theft of cargo on the train tracks in Los Angeles has drawn worldwide attention. Union Pacific promised more safety, and NBCLA spotted crews setting up cameras near the tracks. New fencing can also be found, complete with barbed wire, and on Thursday a Union Pacific police officer was seen watching the trains pass.
One of the trains had an open container: proof that the thieves are still there.
The Los Angeles City Attorney said he was working with Union Pacific and may refer some cases to it for possible prosecution as early as next week.