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From Train Robberies to Stores – US Sees a Rise in Crime – Lesson


(Photo by Nick Ut/Getty Images)

What led to the increase in crime, and what can be done about it?

California, famous for its lovely weather and coastline, is also well known for its movies. Lots of films feature train robberies, and it looks like life is imitating art in the Golden State these days. Crime has risen across the United States in the last two years, and train robberies are just one example.

The Not-So-Great Train Robbery

According to Union Pacific Railroad, the increase in train robberies is believed to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rules limiting California’s police, and jailtime for suspects, are also affecting the situation.

Union Pacific has its own private police force, and officers report that detained thieves simply say that they will be back the next day. Lupe Valdez, who works at the train company, said, “We are making arrests, but what our officers are seeing on the ground is that people are basically being arrested [and] they come out the next day and come back to rob our trains.”

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Valdez claims 90 shipping containers are affected every day. From October 2020 to October 2021, trains were robbed 300 times more often than before. And the thieves are a picky bunch, choosing items they can easily sell, like jewelry and electronics. Meanwhile, abandoned appliances, medical supplies, and children’s artworks destined for family members far away are left littering the tracks.

Los Angeles residents have reported seeing dozens of people on the tracks every night carrying backpacks and duffle bags to take stolen items. Stopped trains are the easiest targets, but a slow-moving one can be robbed, too.

Like all crimes, train robberies come at a cost. Union Pacific reports the thefts have cost their business $5 million. But those numbers eventually impact all Americans, as prices rise to make up for the extra costs in transport and replacing items.


(Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Stores Shutting Down

California’s train tracks aren’t the only places experiencing an increase in crime – stores are also having problems. In San Francisco, Walgreens closed five stores in December 2021. The company blamed the closures on crime, saying shoplifting thefts had risen to five times the average. The store added that it had increased its security to improve safety.

The National Retailers Federation released a report, revealing that over two-thirds of stores across America have seen an increase in “organized retail crimes” – whether by employees or shoppers. They blame the pandemic and changes to city police rules.

Car Crime

Carjacking is another crime that has increased in the last two years. In these crimes, a robber normally threatens a driver in a car, and then steals the car. In some cases, young people are getting involved.


(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Chicago is the nation’s hotspot for this crime, as more than 1,800 instances were reported in 2021. Carjackings had been declining since 2014, but they skyrocketed when the COVID pandemic hit.

This particular felony is happening in other cities, too. In Minneapolis, there were 405 carjackings last year. That is more than triple the number from 2019. In the nation’s capital city, an average of one carjacking is taking place every day – while more than 200 total car thefts happened in just one month. So far in 2022, 49 adults and 100 kids have been arrested for carjacking in Washington, D.C.

What is causing this rise in crime among younger and older people alike? Some have blamed social and economic problems caused by the COVID pandemic, while others point to government policies. In 2020, several big cities reduced police funding, saying the police were abusing their power. At the same time, the police need support to prevent crimes. What can the nation do to achieve a balance?