LA train robberies expose questionable government actions

LITTER LINES THE RAILROADS in LA after numerous trains have been looted. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

Jack Wolfsohn | Writer

Train robberies seem rather dated, don’t they? 

Freight trains are heavy—depending on the number of train cars and haul weight, they can way from 3,000 to over 16,000 tons. The weight compounded with the fact that trains have a specific, known schedule that they more-or-less stick to makes trains very vulnerable to thieves while slowing down for turns; a large freight train cannot simply stop and fend off looters. Oftentimes, before the train driver has even noticed, bandits have already gotten on, rummaged through various supplies, and gotten off. 

Most of the recent train robberies occurred in late December, during the Christmas season, and largely impacted shipping companies and customers awaiting their holiday gifts. Additionally, many Covid tests were stolen that were supposed to go to schools, hospitals, and communities in need of them. A few prosthetic arms were also stolen, which is a real tragedy. I mean, who in their right mind sees a prosthetic arm and thinks to steal it? LA train robbers, I guess.

However, that’s not why this story is so huge. LA train robberies are nothing new. The recent ones are only getting a lot of coverage because of the massive amounts of litter that the thieves leave behind after discarding all the items they don’t deem valuable. However, all of the pictures and headlines about the trash is essentially clickbait to shift the focus towards one man: LA’s district attorney George Gascón. 

PICTURED: Gascón, LA District Attorney, when he was sworn in in December 2020 and announced plans to end the death penalty, cash bail, and trying children as adults. Bryan Chan/AP

This guy is doing a real bang-up job. Security guards stationed at railroads made 100+ arrests of robbers, and George Gascón did not let a single one of them get away… without first saying that none of them are guilty and they can all go home or back to train robbing if they want. Practically no one was prosecuted because Gascón said that not having a stolen item before an event, and then having a stolen item afterwards, does not mean you stole it, even if you were there and orchestrated the whole event. Ironclad logic. Also, he accused the railroad company, Union Pacific, of being at fault for not having secure enough trains, despite the security guards doing what they could to defend the trains like war heroes.  

“Will the number of train robberies decrease now that trains know to not stop at the stations with the most robberies?” junior Ryan Savoie wondered.

It makes a lot of sense that they would decrease, but there’s so much trash on the tracks that they have to stop.

“The arrested thieves obviously committed a crime, so how were they released so easily?” junior Christian McCleary asked.

Essentially, Gascón diminished the charges until they were arrested for no more than trespassing. His aim is to create a more “humane” criminal justice system, but letting criminals back onto the streets to continue carrying out the same crime seems like a strategy to get thrown out of office. 

Despite the mess, Union Pacific made 6.5 billion dollars in 2021, so the robberies don’t seem to be hurting them too much… or even at all.

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