The Union Pacific Railroad has experienced more than a 100 percent increase in robberies after the coronavirus pandemic broke out in 2020.
In Oct. of 2021 alone, robberies of cargo containers in the Los Angeles County railways had increased over Oct. of 2020 by 356 percent according to Union Pacific’s statistics.
The Union Pacific Railroad’s tracks remain strewn with discarded FEDEX boxes and wrappings that robbers have left behind after breaking into boxcars.
“The Great Train Robbery,” the first American silent film that was released in Dec. of 1903 to be shown at vaudeville houses, was directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company.
The film portrays a gang of outlaws that holds up a train in the American West, attempts to escape over the mountains but are caught and defeated by a local posse.
Apparently, no local posse has been formed in L.A. where the no-cash bail policy continues with George Gascon as L.A. County’s district attorney.
Political pundits view Gascon’s reluctance to crack down on crime while tent cities within the city continue to spring up as havens for criminals and the homeless who are perceived by the public as being the leading reason for the spike in crime, including train robberies.
The recent stabbing to death of a UCLA graduate school student who was a part-time worker at a furniture store near UCLA’s Westwood campus where she attended classes serves as an example of a crime committed by a homeless man, one caught on video.
The robberies that have taken place during the pandemic have cost the railway company an estimated $5 million, caused delays in the timely delivery of goods, and created an unsightly litter problem along the railroad tracks in L.A. that pass by concrete walls marred with graffiti.
The Union Pacific Railroad’s police force of 200 along with its K-9 units have not been able to prevent the thieves from breaking into hundreds of cargo containers daily, pilfering whatever they perceive to be valuable, and discarding the cardboard boxes as trash.
The problem has been exacerbated by the increased homeless population in L.A. made up of many who are addicted to drugs and others who suffer from mental illnesses.
Combined with a lax-on-crime atmosphere reflected by the no-cash bail policy that enables criminals to be released back onto the streets, L.A. continues to be a haven for criminals who pose a threat to law-abiding citizens and to the delivery of cargo being transported by Union Pacific Railroad.
“The Great Train Robbery” is believed to have been inspired by the exploits of Butch Cassidy. Perhaps a Hollywood screenwriter will write a script about the trashing of trains in L.A.
Ray Allen is the Editor of the Virginian Review. Mr Allen received his A.B. degree in English and physical education (1963) and M.A. degree in secondary education (1965) from Morehead State University before earning his M.F.A. degree in theatre arts from UCLA (1980) where he majored in writing for motion pictures and television. He retired as an educator in 2004, having taught 11 subjects and having coached five varsity sports during his 41-year-career that led him to teach and coach in Ky., Mich., Calif. and Va.