Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the Union Pacific railroad in Los Angeles on Thursday to help clean up the site following a spate of railcar thefts, bemoaning the state of the area.
“I’m asking myself, what the hell is going on? We look like a third-world country,” Newsom said to reporters, according to Politico.
Newsom was visiting the site after a string of organized train robberies, an increase in railroad crime that prompted Union Pacific to write an urgent letter to Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon excoriating the prosecutor for his no-cash bail policy that the company argued 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 before quickly apologizing for using the term “gangs.”
“This is not one-off. This is organized theft,” Newsom said, according to KCRA. “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 combat 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.”
Over 90 train containers are breached a day, 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.”
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