featured graphic for Michelle Steel, Congresswoman for California’s 48th District, after COVID-19

Steel leads letter to Attorney General Garland in response to train looting

Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) led 17 Members of Congress in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in response to the ongoing rail theft seen in downtown Los Angeles. There has been a 160% increase in thefts along the Union Pacific railroad tracks, and concern continues to grow that this theft is being committed by well-organized crime rings. As the supply chain crisis at our ports continues, this theft is not affecting just California, but commerce throughout the United States. “Therefore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) play a vital role in federally prosecuting the epidemic of robberies on all freight transportation,” the Members wrote.

“Action is needed, and a continued lack of urgency will lead to further crime and delays of necessary items to consumers. We urge you to expeditiously prosecute and hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable. Bottlenecks at our local ports and the soft-on-crime approaches by the Los Angeles District Attorney have contributed to these types of thefts in our local communities. Your office must use every tool available to end this type of violence and organized crime,” the letter states.

Reps. Rick Crawford, Doug LaMalfa, Bob Gibbs, Jay Obernolte, Rodney Davis, David Valadao, Mike Garcia, Young Kim, August Pfluger, Chris Stewart, Don Bacon, Austin Smith, Michael Guest, Ken Calvert, Pete Stauber, Frank Lucas, and Burgess Owens joined Rep. Steel on the letter.

You can read the full letter below.


The Honorable Merrick Garland
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland,

As you are aware from recent reports, organized crime groups continue to wreak havoc across California. Organized retail theft and violence are causing many new safety and consumer risks. Now we are seeing the same organized attacks on cargo trains. These attacks continue, without penalty, thanks to the state’s disastrous progressive policies and lack of criminal prosecution. The effects of the continued theft and looting are felt throughout the country.

The supply chain crisis has created a new wave of violence at railroad tracks in Lincoln Heights. Organized groups are now stealing packages, equipment, and other important products from railroad cars in Los Angeles County. According to Union Pacific, there has been a 160% increase in thefts along railroad tracks in L.A. County since December 2020 and there is growing concern that this vandalism is being committed by well-organized crime organizations.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Omicron variant spreading throughout Southern California, many individuals have used e-commerce to buy products instead of going to local stores. Some of these purchases include COVID-19 tests, Personal Protect Equipment (PPE), electronics, and food products – which are out of stock at many of our local stores due to supply chain shortages. Freight transportation has been vital to ensuring these products get to consumers and retailers, especially given the shortage of truck drivers in California.

In addition, it is important to note that many of these purchases are not just delivered throughout the State of California, but also throughout the United States, affecting interstate and international commerce. Therefore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) play a vital role in federally prosecuting the epidemic of robberies on all freight transportation.

Should this criminal activity continue, access to PPE and other important items may be scarce. Action is needed, and a continued lack of urgency will lead to further crime and delays of necessary items to consumers.

We urge you to expeditiously prosecute and hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable. Bottlenecks at our local ports and the soft-on-crime approaches by the Los Angeles District Attorney have contributed to these types of thefts in our local communities. Your office must use every tool available to end this type of violence and organized crime.

This article was released by the Office of Representative Michelle Steel.

2 Comments

  1. Send your letters to the Governor and Union Pacific and tell them to get their act together. This is not a Federal law enforcement problem. It’s caused by lazy local politicians and law enforcement that does not want to arrest people any longer because they won’t be fully prosecuted. Rep. Steel grandstanding again.

    1. Dana,

      Thank you for reading Orange County Breeze, and for taking the time to comment on this article.

      Setting aside whether or not Rep. Steel is “grandstanding,” the theft of parcels from Union Pacific trains in East Los Angeles is interference with interstate commerce, a federal issue. So federal authorities can indeed step in if local authorities fail at their responsibilities.

      My sympathies are with Union Pacific police, who arrest the thieves and turn them over to the Los Angeles Police Department only to see the (same!) thieves back thieving before the paperwork can be filed. It is pointless to arrest thieves under current California law as enforced by the Los Angeles County District Attorney, no matter how much money Governor Newsom throws at the problem.

      Again, thank you for reading Orange County Breeze.

      Shelley Henderson
      editor, Orange County Breeze

Comments are closed.