Thieves Target Shipping Containers Amid Logjam at America's Ports

Thieves have been targeting cargo containers which are being hauled by trains in Los Angeles amid a major backlog at ports across the country.

Thousands of boxes which were previously being held on Union Pacific trains as they wait to make their way into the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been seen strewn by the train tracks at Valley Boulevard and North Mission Road in Lincoln Park.

As noted by NBC, there are homeless encampments on both sides on the railway tracks where the boxes have been discarded.

Union Pacific said it is aware of the thefts and is working with local police on the matter. City officials are reported to be looking into moving some of the containers into vacant lots in Wilmington in order to help prevent further thefts.

Officials have struggled to clear the backlogs of cargo at the ports, which have disrupted supply chains. At the start of the week, there were 77 container ships anchored off shore waiting to come to port to unload their cargo.

"The more that the supply chain in general is backed up, the more cargo you're going to have sitting. And that creates a bigger opportunity for thefts," Scott Cornell, a crime and theft specialist at insurance giant Travelers, told CBS MoneyWatch.

In October, President Joe Biden said the Port of Los Angeles would begin operating 24 hours a day in order to help clear the supply chain issues, following on from a similar commitment made by the Port of Long Beach a few weeks ago.

However, the ports say they can't operate 24/7 until trucking companies and warehouses also increase their operations.

"Twenty-four/seven system — what most of the leading countries in the world already operate on now, except us, until now," Biden said.

"By staying open seven days a week, through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles [will be open] 60 extra hours a week.

"In total, that will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business from earlier this year. That means an increase in the hours for workers to be moving cargo off ships and onto trucks and railcars to get to their destination."

A port official told NBC that all cargo containers were in safe locations on Monday.

Around 40 percent of all shipping containers imported into the country come via the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Union Pacific has been contacted for further comment.

port thefts
A cargo ship unloads its containers in the Port of Long Beach on October 28, 2021. Thieves are targeting containers being held on trains as the US struggle to clear backlogs of cargo in ports. Nick Ut/Getty Images