LOS ANGELES — More than 80 newly manufactured guns were among the items stolen from freight trains near Los Angeles in recent months, local police officials say.
The pilfered firearms, which included at least 36 pistols and 46 semi-automatic shotguns, were taken from a container car that was burglarized in August. The shipment’s destination was Tennessee, the Los Angeles police officials said.
Only two have been recovered thus far, they said.
Los Angeles police announced this week that guns were among the items stolen in the recent spate of train thefts, but specific figures were not provided.
“That gave us a significant concern as a source of further violence in the city,” Police Chief Michael Moore said Tuesday.
The police department made six arrests in the last week and more than 120 overall involving people suspected of breaking into the rail cars and taking a wide variety of valuable merchandise, a police spokesperson said this week.
Moore said, “People were capitalizing on the transport of these containers with having little or no policing or security services there.”
Gang members are among those suspected of being involved, officials said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had no immediate comment and referred an inquiry to Los Angeles police and Union Pacific Railroad Police.
Los Angeles police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Union Pacific Railroad spokesperson declined to answer specific questions, citing the active investigation. But the spokesperson said the railroad had brought in “dozens of special agents” to assist.
Since last summer, cargo trains passing through the area have been hit repeatedly by thieves who have stolen items such as big-screen televisions, appliances and clothing. The spate of thefts has drawn comparisons to rifle-toting train bandits from the days of the Wild West.
But officials say trains have been easy targets, with very little security, for years and that bandits can essentially gain access to freight cars unopposed.