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Crime

Newly Installed Cameras Put a Stop to Cargo Train Thefts in Northeast L.A.

11:28 AM PDT on March 14, 2022

photo: Fernando Reyes/Unsplash

Back in November, we sounded our horns over reports that thieves in Northeast L.A. were targeting Union Pacific freight trains, stealing packages en route to the people who had ordered them and leaving a massive wake of shredded cardboard and paper in their wake. The news compounded the headaches of corporations and consumers already incurred by widespread global shipping delays.

The situation seemed to worsen still by January when a right-wing personality began filming his adventures around the tracks, COVID tests were taken, and an outcry sounded through local and national media. Then ace reporter Mike Ade dropped the revelation on L.A. TACO that Union Pacific had laid off a number of its own police force before the rash of thefts, interrupting the company's vocal complaints about progressive Los Angeles prosecutor George Gascon being the cause of the robberies.

Now Union Pacific appears to be announcing a victory in thwarting further thefts. Not by rehiring the security it laid off, but by automating their jobs. NBC reports that the thefts "have stopped overnight" and the tracks appear significantly clear of debris, thanks to the implementation of cameras from the GardaWorld-owned ECAM Secure, a four-BILLION dollar surveillance company gleefully replacing human security with robotic eyes.

The cameras were apparently installed last week, though the company would reportedly not admit to the news station that it had a contract with Union Pacific. The streaming video is viewed by actual humans at a command center in Long Beach, with Artificial Intelligence highlighting the movement of other actual humans on the tracks, highlighting suspicious or unauthorized persons and vehicles in restricted areas. At which point, a loudspeaker tells the violator they've been spotted and are being recorded while recommending they get the fuck out of there.

The cameras are said to be working, with crime quickly reduced on the tracks.

Much as Union Pacific was able to use the thefts to criticize the county prosecutor, it's hardly outside the realm of imagination that this supposed "cure-all" of vigilant security cameras could be used to justify their implementation elsewhere in the city, especially where crime may be visibly higher. It has already been reported that businesses and residents of the Melrose area have chipped in together to buy license plate recognition cameras in an attempt to police their neighborhood.

Garda Security Company certainly looks like one of those companies that look to benefit from an increasingly unstable world. Most recognizable perhaps for its empire of armored cars emblazoned with the company name, the Canada-based corporation claims to employ over 122,000 security professionals in 45 countries, serving governments, humanitarian groups, and businesses alike through a medley of protection, cash, and aviation screening services.

On its website, it trumpets praise from clients including energy company ABB Libya, the Bank of Montreal, and the American Red Cross.

Its aggressive acquisition strategy has come under some criticism, with allegations that it is frequent cutting of corners has ledto dangerous driving that resulted in several deadly accidents nationwide, leading to 19 deaths between 2008-2020. The company's name was in the headlines again last August, after it failed in its attempt to evacuate 125 employees who worked as guards at the UK's Embassy in Kabul, while successfully evacuating 100 guards working for the U.S. Embassy there under a separate contract.

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