Business

Thieves Target Another Source for Stolen Goods: Delivery Trucks and Trains Full of Packages

Irfan Khan | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
  • Trains and delivery trucks have become a target for some thieves who are looking for goods to steal and sell.
  • Major retailers, including Target and Best Buy, have spoken out about organized thefts and urged Congress to make it harder for criminals to make money from the stolen goods online.
  • UPS Chief Executive Carol Tome said Friday that the number of robberies at the delivery company is not "materially higher, but it's something that we all need to be concerned about."

Instead of shoplifting from stores, some thieves are zeroing in on another target: Trains and delivery trucks full of packages on the way to customers' doorsteps.

UPS Chief Executive Carol Tome said Friday that one of the company's 18-wheeler trucks was robbed in Atlanta in the early hours of the morning. She said thieves hijacked the truck after the driver left one of the delivery company's largest hubs.

"He was stopped at gunpoint. He was zip-tied, thrown into the back of his feeder car and they took the packages," she said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." The robbery took place in late December, according to an NBC news report.

In downtown Los Angeles, a video from the local CBS station shows looted packages littering the train tracks. Thieves raided cargo containers and left behind cardboard boxes that had been carrying purchases from Amazon and REI, including some with UPS labels and tracking numbers, according to the report. Those abandoned boxes carried merchandise ranging from unused Covid tests and fishing lures to EpiPens, according to tweets from one of the TV station's reporters.

According to a report from NBCLA, the thefts have been an ongoing issue in recent months.

LOS ANGELES CA JANUARY 14, 2022 - A man walks along a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles that has been littered with thousands of shredded boxes, packages stolen from cargo containers that stop in the area to unload Friday, January 14, 2022. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Irfan Khan | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
LOS ANGELES CA JANUARY 14, 2022 - A man walks along a section of the Union Pacific train tracks in downtown Los Angeles that has been littered with thousands of shredded boxes, packages stolen from cargo containers that stop in the area to unload Friday, January 14, 2022. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Organized theft has gained more attention from major retailers and trade groups, after brazen smash-and-grabs at stores like Nordstrom and concerns that thieves can steal and sell goods anonymously online. CEOs of companies, including Target, Neiman Marcus, Levi Strauss & Co. and Walgreens a sent a letter to Congress last month, urging legislation that makes it harder for criminals to "hide behind fake screennames and false business information" on third-party marketplaces.

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said the crimes — which are sometimes violent — have compounded staffing challenges for retailers who are trying to find and retain employees during the pandemic.

UPS' Tome said the delivery company's robberies have not noticeably changed in number. She said the company is helping customers who have affected packages and its security team "is leaning in in a big way to try to protect our customers' packages and our cargo."

"I wouldn't say it's materially higher, but it's something that we all need to be concerned about," she said.

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