The scene was a stretch of railroad tracks in Lincoln Heights on Saturday: A blizzard of torn plastic wrappers, cardboard boxes and paper packaging attesting to a wave of rail car thievery that officials say has been on the rise in recent months.

Several scavengers picked through the debris, hoping to find electronics, clothes or whatever valuables thieves left behind.

“Everything comes on the train — cellphones, Louis Vuitton purses, designer clothes, toys, lawnmowers, power equipment, power tools,” said a 37-year-old man who declined to give his name. He said he comes to the tracks regularly and once found a Louis Vuitton purse and a robotic arm worth five figures: “We find things here and there, make some money off of it.”

Thieves are pilfering railroad cars in a crime that harks back to the days of horseback-riding bandits, but is fueled by a host of modern realities, including the rise of e-commerce and Southern California’s role as a hub for the movement of goods

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