Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the Union Pacific railroad in Los Angeles on Thursday to help clean up the site following a string of railcar thefts.
“I’m asking myself, what the hell is going on? We look like a third-world country,” Newsom said.
Newsom was visiting the site following a rash of organized train robberies. There has been a surge in railroad crime, that led Union Pacific to write an urgent letter to Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon criticizing the prosecutor for his no-cash bail policy which the company said contributed to the rise in crime.
The Democratic governor told reporters that his office had outlined a plan to stop the “organized gangs” of criminals but quickly apologized for using the term “gangs.” “This is not one-off. This is organized theft,” Newsom said. “These are organized gangs of people that are coming out, and forgive me for saying gangs, that’s not a pejorative.”
Newsom also announced a state-level initiative to stop the threat of rail theft and aid Union Pacific in cleaning up the area.
“Caltrans crews will assist Union Pacific in their efforts over the next few days to clean up the impacted area,” his office announced in a press release. “Additionally, the California Highway Patrol will continue its efforts to coordinate with local law enforcement to help prevent theft on railways in Los Angeles.”
More than 90 train containers are broken into daily, according to Union Pacific, and rail theft increased 160% from December 2020 to December 2021 and 365% from October 2020 to October 2021.
“What has happened on this stretch of the Union Pacific railroad is unacceptable,” Newsom said. “We are committed to an all-of-government approach to prevent thefts, prosecute the criminals involved, and clean up local communities.”