‘What the hell is going on here? It looks like a third world country!’ exclaimed California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) last week as he joined a cleanup crew moving along the Union Pacific railroad in east LA.
As you can see in the image above, the area is completely covered in trash left behind by thieves and the homeless. From the looks of the mess, many of the items stolen were holiday gifts.
“We saw memories that never were,” said Newsom. “Because gifts never arrived.”
Before visiting the tracks, Newsom promised supporters an increase in state funding to fight rail and retail theft and to clean up railroads.
Rail theft is not a new problem for the state of California but has jumped by 160% since the start of the pandemic. The increase in theft has dramatically interrupted supply chains already damaged by the pandemic.
Unfortunately, Union Pacific’s attempts to protect railroads with improved fencing and security measures haven’t seemed to make much of a difference. According to Newsom, there have been 280 arrests for rail theft in recent months but there should have been more.
“What has happened on this stretch of the Union Pacific Railroad is unacceptable,” continued the governor. “How do we make sure we don’t have to keep coming back?… How do we secure this site?”
Newsom’s words seem to acknowledge the failure of policies put into place by himself and by former Governor Jerry Brown (D) to combat crime and homelessness, such as zero-cash bail for low-level offenses and a measure that effectively decriminalized the theft of goods valued at $950 or less.
The state is also running a gun buyback program that has proven ineffective at removing weapons from the streets.
These Democratic policies are not “deterring” or “preventing” crime, laments Lisa Smittcamp, District Attorney for Fresno County. “It’s not doing anything to stop this, which is why it just keeps getting worse and worse and we keep seeing more bold behaviors, we keep seeing more criminals who are empowered.”
“Criminals know how to exploit California’s policies for their gain,” adds Scott Wilk, head of the Republican Party in the California State Senate.
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