Have any of your intermodal shipments from the West Coast turned up short—real short? If so, you may have been the victim of a train robbery.
Recently, the Los Angeles Times sent reporter Mike Anton to California's Mojave National Preserve, a remote area famous for its sun-baked sand dunes and salt flats. Anton reported that the Mojave, far from being a pristine wilderness, is a haunt of criminals, including thieves who target slow-moving freight trains as they chug up the park's mountains en route to Nevada.
According to Tim Duncan, the heavily armed National Park Service ranger who escorted Anton, the robbers open containers and boxcars at night, and then toss their booty to accomplices waiting nearby. The situation has improved greatly in recent years, thanks to increased patrols by rangers and railroad police. The area no longer looks like "an open-air flea market," Duncan said, but rangers still find cartons of home electronics and other consumer goods scattered near the tracks from time to time.