"It’s ugly out there": Rail thefts leave tracks littered with pilfered packages

“Everything comes on the train — cellphones, Louis Vuitton purses, designer clothes, toys, lawnmowers, power equipment, power tools,” said a 37-year-old man who declined to give his name. He said he comes to the tracks regularly and once found a Louis Vuitton purse and a robotic arm worth five figures: “We find things here and there, make some money off of it.”

Thieves are pilfering railroad cars in a crime that harks back to the days of horseback-riding bandits, but is fueled by a host of modern realities, including the rise of e-commerce and Southern California’s role as a hub for the movement of goods…

Union Pacific reported what it claimed was a 160% increase since December 2020 in thefts along the railroad tracks in L.A. County. The railroad didn’t release specific data on what was stolen or the value of what was lost, but it said the increase in crime cost the company at least $5 million last year.

A bottleneck in the supply chain and the presence of homeless encampments near rail lines have contributed to the thefts, officials said.