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Robbers raid Amazon, FedEx freight cars, leave thousands of gutted boxes on tracks

According to the tags discovered Friday on a track in the city centre, numerous big US mail order and courier firms, including Amazon, Target, UPS, and FedEx, are being targeted by the current surge in thefts.

Robbers raid Amazon FedEx freight cars leave thousands of gutted boxes on tracks gcw
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Los Angeles, First Published Jan 15, 2022, 11:53 AM IST
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Every day, criminals break into dozens of freight cars on Los Angeles' rails, taking advantage of the trains' pauses to plunder shipments purchased online, leaving thousands of burnt boxes and merchandise that will never reach their destinations. According to the tags discovered Friday on a track in the city centre, numerous big US mail order and courier firms, including Amazon, Target, UPS, and FedEx, are being targeted by the current surge in thefts. The criminals wait until the lengthy freight trains are stalled on the tracks before climbing onto the freight containers and easily breaking the locks with bolt cutters.

They then help themselves to parcels, discarding items that are difficult to transfer or resell or are too inexpensive, such as Covid-19 test kits, furniture, or pharmaceuticals. Since December 2020, rail operator Union Pacific has observed a 160 per cent increase in thefts in Los Angeles County. The phenomena recently peaked with the peak of activity associated with Christmas shopping. In the fourth quarter of 2021, more than 90 containers were vandalised on average every day in Los Angeles County, according to statistics.

Union Pacific claims it has improved monitoring measures, including drones and other detecting systems, and hired additional security personnel to fight the tendency for its tracks and convoys. Over 100 people were held by police and security workers in the final three months of 2021 for "trespassing and vandalising" Union Pacific trains.

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Union Pacific wrote to the Los Angeles County Attorney's Office at the end of December, requesting that they evaluate a leniency policy for such offences that went into effect at the end of 2020. The letter claims that the increase in looting has corresponded with an increase in "assaults and armed robbery of personnel performing their tasks moving trains." The operator anticipates that such thefts will cost $5 million in damages in 2021.

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