Trains in downtown Los Angeles are traveling on rail lines covered with torn open packages and empty boxes after people raided cargo cars for the booty therein. For everyone playing Societal Collapse at home, we’re now at the wholesale train heist portion of our regression:
The packages are largely from retailers like Amazon and REI. Packages that contained less valuable items, like still incredibly expensive Epi pens and hard-to-find rapid home COVID-19 tests, didn’t have a high enough resale value or usefulness and were left on the tracks with the rest of the debris.
This certainly isn’t a new problem, as Union Pacific admitted to cleaning the tracks at least every other month. Seems like it may need to step up the pace. Police say they don’t interfere with the rail yards unless requested, which is rare as rail companies operate their own security. The problem is so acute that CBS Local caught someone in the act while reporting from the yard:
Sources told CBSLA that the locks Union Pacific uses are easy to cut, and officials with the Los Angeles Police Department said they don’t respond to reports of a train robbery unless Union Pacific asks them for help, which they said is rare.
While CBSLA was on the scene with cameras, one person was seen running off with a container used to hold smaller packages, and a Union Pacific officer was spotted chasing after two other people who appeared to be rifling through packages.
CBSLA also obtained video of University of Southern California Campus Police arresting a suspected thief last month. According to officers, the suspect’s bag was filled with stolen goods taken from the train tracks.
A source with knowledge of the issue told CBSLA that Union Pacific cleaned up this area of tracks three months ago, and again only about 30 days ago, though the area is already littered with new discarded boxes.
Now, every outlet is calling these folks thieves, and sure, that’s technically correct. But let’s face it: shit’s been real for a while, and nowhere is the realness of the shit more evident than in Los Angeles. The pandemic and the current economic recovery have been very good to the already rich, and not great for everyone else, like billionaires who got 54 percent richer during lockdowns while 100 million were pushed into extreme poverty worldwide, according to CNN.
More than 20 percent of Angelenos live below the poverty line in one of the most expensive cities in the world. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Los Angeles County is neck and neck with Yolo county for the greatest rates of poverty in the state. The growing poverty rate and the quickly skyrocketing costs of well, everything, housing in particular, are immediately evident by the exploding unhomed population in LA. As a result, the amount of unhomed people has exploded and the signs are hard to ignore as encampments continue to grow everywhere from under freeway overpasses to the famous Venice Beach boardwalk.
Stealing is not a good thing to do, we all know that. Thieves are out to make a quick buck at the expense of someone else. But this strikes me more as desperate, wholesale looting than property crime, and we should expect to see more of it as we ignore the mass suffering caused by rampant income inequality.