Los Angeles train robberies: Congress members ask Garland for DOJ’s help

Los Angeles train robberies: Congress members ask Garland for DOJ’s help

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Reps. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., Michelle Steel, R-Calif., and other lawmakers are asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to help combat train robberies after photos and videos of Los Angeles train cargo being looted went vial last week.

Los Angeles photojournalist John Schreiber last week shared footage of train tracks belonging to railroad company Union Pacific in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of LA and described “looted packages as far as the eye can see,” including “Amazon packages, UPS boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures, epi pens,” he said in a tweet.

The photos and videos prompted questions about what officials are doing to combat rail theft and how these thefts are impacting an already-stressed U.S. supply chain.

“For months, the White House has blamed ‘supply chain disruptions’ for increasingly bare store shelves and skyrocketing consumer prices. Yet the fact of the matter is that many of these ‘disruptions’ are a direct result of this administration’s policies…” Tiffany wrote in a Wednesday letter to Garland.

“This problem is now being complicated further by what many Americans see as the collective decision of officials like you and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon to turn a blind eye to criminal activity.”


Tiffany concluded his letter by urging the attorney general to use Justice Department resources to “enforce our laws and crack down on these modern-day outlaws” participating in what the Wisconsin congressman described as a “wave of ‘Wild West style’ train robberies.”

Additionally, Steel led 14 other members of Congress in sending a letter to Garland on Thursday, asking for the Justice Department’s help in combating crime on L.os Angeles railroads.

Steel noted that many of the products thieves are stealing from railroads in Los Angeles “are not just delivered throughout the State of California, but also throughout the United States, affecting interstate and international commerce.”

“Therefore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) play a vital role in federally prosecuting the epidemic of robberies on all freight transportation,” she wrote. “Should this criminal activity continue, access to PPE and other important items may be scarce. Action is needed, and a continued lack of urgency will lead to further crime and delays of necessary items to consumers.”


Union Pacific (UP) in a Friday statement urged District Attorney Gascon to “reconsider” Special Directive 20-07, which allows many misdemeanor cases to be declined or dismissed prior to arraignment unless “factors for considerations” exist.

The list of offenses includes trespassing, disturbing the peace, a minor in possession of alcohol, driving without a license, driving with a suspended license, making criminal threats, drug and paraphernalia possession, being under the influence of a controlled substance, public intoxication, loitering to commit prostitution and resisting arrest.

UP’s state director of public affairs, Adrian Guerrero, called the train thefts “incredibly disappointing and frustrating.”

“But that’s the reality of what Union Pacific has been facing over the past year, and it’s helping us shine a light on this issue. I think it’s a call to action for a number of stakeholders involved in this issue because … there are a number of folks being impacted by this,” Guerrero told Fox News Digital last week, adding that UP has engaged with the Los Angeles Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol to target the thefts.


UP has about 1,600 employees in Los Angeles County and its own police department with primary jurisdiction over crimes committed on the railroad, according to its website. The railroad company estimates more than 90 packages are compromised per day.

Those “who are intent on breaking into these containers can and will find a way,” sometimes “damaging the containers to gain access,” a UP spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

Union Pacific experienced a 160% increase in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles County over the past year. (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

In December 2021, Guerrero sent a letter to the district attorney pointing to rising retail theft crime in Los Angeles County over the past year as part of the problem and asking for assistance in addressing it on Los Angeles railroads. UP experienced a 160% increase in criminal rail theft in Los Angeles County over the past year.

“In several months during that period, the increase from the previous year surpassed 200%. In October 2021 alone, the increase was 356% over compared to October 2020,” Guerrero wrote in the letter. “Not only do these dramatic increases represent retail product thefts – they include increased assaults and armed robberies of UP employees performing their duties moving trains.”


The theft has amounted to more than $5 million in damages to UP alone, which does not include damages to customers or consumers.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, special adviser to Gascon Alex Bastian said, “Our office is committed to working with law enforcement to ensure collective safety across Los Angeles County’s sprawling infrastructure, whether it’s at our ports or on railroad tracks. Some cases presented to our office by Union Pacific have been filed, such as burglary and grand theft, while others have been declined due to insufficient evidence. We make charging decisions based on the evidence.”

“Our office takes Union Pacific’s concerns seriously and hopes to discuss this issue more in the coming weeks,” Bastian continued.