Newsom in LA after 'porch pirates' target cargo trains in effort to steal packages

LOS ANGELES -- "Porch pirate" thieves are stealing packages before they even get to your porch, by targeting cargo trains, officials say.

Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the Union Pacific train tracks near downtown Los Angeles on Thursday. It looked more like a war zone or a disaster movie, but the site was littered with thousands of boxes.

"I see what you see. I see what you've been covering. I see what everybody's seeing, asking myself, what the hell is going on? It looks like a third-world country," said Newsom.

Some of the boxes are packages from companies like UPS, Amazon, and FedEx. Thieves are breaking into trains and taking what they want, the rest tossed aside, officials say.

Many of these items arrived at the ports and were moved by train, only to end up alongside train tracks.

"UPS will remain engaged to help ensure our customer's goods are safe. That's our commitment," said Bruce MacRae, of UPS.

Union Pacific says it may stop operating in L.A. County following this increase in thefts. The company blames, in part, L.A. District Attorney George Gascón for his policies.

The company sent a letter to Gascón in December claiming there is a 160 percent increase in theft over the last year. The letter also explained how a 2020 special directive made certain misdemeanors, like trespassing, less severe.

"It's not just arrest-and-walk-away. You've gotta do the work, and then present the case and see folks prosecuted, and see their lives turn around," added Newsom.

There is a published report that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Pacific laid off employees across the system, which would include some of its police force. The company says it has brought in agents from other states.

"Police, law enforcement, technology, infrastructure solutions, and criminal justice, all of that combined is what's going to help us move forward on this issue," said a Union Pacific spokesman.

And Union Pacific says its officers patrolling the area have arrested, over the past few weeks, dozens of people, but say they're still waiting for those suspects to go to court.

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