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Amazon, UPS packages litter LA County railroads amid spike in theft

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Debris from thousands of rifled through Amazon and UPS packages on cargo containers have littered rail tracks in Los Angeles County amid surge in theft, police said.

Medications, high-demand COVID-19 testing kits, face masks, boots and family portraits, were among the debris blanketing the railroad tracks in downtown Los Angeles on Friday amid months of theft, Nextstar's NewsNation and KTLA.com reported.

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The national cable channel also uncovered abandoned arthritis medication, which KTLA.com noted was among the pricier items since it can cost patients more than $6,000.

Union Pacific Railroad, one of the largest railroad companies, told NewsNation thefts have added up to about $5 million in claims and losses in the past year, adding it has increased the number of special agents and used "additional technologies" to combat crime.

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Union Pacific told CNN it may avoid operating in Los Angeles County due to the uptick in thefts.

Thefts were up by 160% year-over-year, according to a letter Union Pacific wrote to the Los Angeles District Attorney last month, CNN reported.

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon issued a special directive in December 2020 to change how low-level offenses are prosecuted amid increases in poverty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to combat social ills from misdemeanor convictions, such as barriers to employment.

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The directive allows certain misdemeanor crimes, such as trespassing, to be dismissed.

Union Pacific said in the letter it understands the directive's goals, but asked Gascon to reconsider because it wants to hold people accountable and protect its employees.

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