Thieves steal cargo containers from trains in LA

Groups of thieves have been stealing shipping containers from trains approaching downtown Los Angeles for months, taking packages belonging to people across the United States and leaving the tracks littered with discarded boxes.

The packages come from retailers including Amazon, REI and others, CBS Los Angeles reported Thursday. The many discarded items include items the thieves apparently didn’t think were valuable enough to take.

While CBSLA cameras were on the scene, a person was spotted running with a container used to store small packages, and a Union Pacific Railroad trooper was seen chasing two other individuals who were apparently searching the packages.

The scene was the same in November, when NBC4 showed thousands of discarded boxes along the roads that pass by homeless encampments northeast of downtown in the Lincoln Park area.

Passing trains were carrying containers with their doors wide open and packages falling out, NBC4 reported. A video showed two men, one of them holding what appeared to be a chain cutter, walking along the tracks, the television station said.

Union Pacific said in a statement to CBSLA that the company is concerned about the increase in cargo theft in California.

“We have increased the number of Union Pacific special agents on patrol, and have used and tested additional technologies to help us combat this criminal activity. We will also continue to work with our local law enforcement partners and elected leaders,» the company said.

Amazon said it was referring questions to police. United Parcel Service declined to comment on the cargo theft investigations but said it was cooperating with authorities.

«The safety of our customers’ assets and our employees is our top priority,» UPS said in a statement.