With Southern California a global hub for cargo in this e-commerce age, train cars filled with valuable goods are crisscrossing hundreds of miles of track at all hours.

But amid the supply chain congestion at local ports and elsewhere, those trains sometimes sit idle, leaving them vulnerable to thieves in urban rail yards, according to supply chain experts.

“A train at rest is a train at risk,” said Keith Lewis, vice president of operations for CargoNet, a company that tracks cargo thefts. “There’s a backlog of getting trains back to the West Coast from the East Coast. You got a lot of different supply chain issues.”

Under federal law, Union Pacific and other railroad companies can employ their own police force accredited by the state to protect its tracks. Former employees and police say budgetary issues have slashed the ranks of the company’s force, leaving as few as half a dozen in the region. Union Pacific declined to say how many agents it has.

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