A year-long investigation into a string of train burglaries in Los Angeles has led to almost two dozen arrests and the recovery of $18 million in stolen goods.
A Los Angeles Police Department task force, working with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, Police, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Police and other associated law enforcement agencies, investigating the burglaries that made headlines in January 2022 said Thursday they have arrested 22 people associated with two crime rings and recovered $18 million in merchandise, KTLA reported.
“The Commercial Crimes Division detectives’ investigative efforts resulted in not just countless hours of surveillance, 49 search warrants, but also the recovery of more than $18 million worth of merchandise stolen from these cargo containers. Those containers were on trains headed to all points across the country,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a press conference.
The individuals arrested are facing charges that include burglary, cargo theft, and receiving stolen property.
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Authorities say that the stolen merchandise was found in homes, cars and warehouse facilities, and were intended to be sold in L.A. County and other areas as far as Arizona, KTLA reported.
In total, the department says that roughly 700 people have been arrested in connection with the burglaries.
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Law enforcement officials say that raids related to the burglaries also resulted in the seizure of drugs and automatic weapons.
“So, it gives you a sense of that those allegedly involved in these crimes were involved not just in thefts from these train lines, but much more broadly and intercepting at this moment can solve a lot of crimes in this region,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said at the press conference.
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The Union Pacific Railroad Company reported in January a 160% nationwide increase in rail thefts and more than 90 compromised containers each day with a significant chunk coming in Los Angeles where looters were scaling fences and ransacking containers leaving piles of boxes in their wake that went viral on social media.
Authorities say that in addition to the arrests, efforts have been made to increase fencing and install cameras that will alert LAPD officers to attempted burglaries on train cars in progress.
“So, at night you can hear the cameras go off when someone approaches the tracks…they’ll tell them to get off the tracks,” Robert Vega, owner of A&A Auto Wrecking which is located near the train tracks, told KTLA. “So, that’s working out pretty good.”