[NYT] The Great Freight Train Heists of the 21st Century

The explosion of the e-commerce economy has created an opportunity for thieves — and a conundrum for the railways.

[mod edit: removed templated text]

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A short excerpt really isn’t needed, since you were kind enough to share an ‘unlocked’ URL not behind the Gray Lady’s paywall, but Malia Wollan’s 012324 article is a troublingly fascinating story.

I suspect that the money quotes from Wollan’s article are these:

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in suspecting that this will not be the last we see - and suffer - of this, unfortunately.


HOMEOWNER IN A HIGH RISK AREA: I don’t need a good quality lock on my door. I have insurance.


Ay, there’s the rub.

Maybe they’ll change their tune when the burglar decides to cap them.

That has already happened as far back as 150+ years ago with train robberies. Doubt any tune adjusting will be done over that. It may be sad but that will be the reality.

Wait until the insurance company slips into next year’s policy a requirement for higher quality locks. Or limitation on loss claims.

The insurance industry just has a miserable year in most of the U.S. Not that I am inclined to have much sympathy for them, but it gets passed on to the policyholders or the public in general.

I am sure we have all heard of insurance companies ceasing to issue new policies in some states.

I am quite amazed that my policy renewal was for the previous rate and with the same limits.


Count your blessings … ours have been increasing by leaps and bounds since 2020. When we called to inquire as to why such extreme increases, the young lady tried to school us on how the basic insurance policies are written (mind you … we were a licensed agent of several lines at one time … kind of think we know the rodeo) and then giggled and said just wait a couple of years and your age is going to trigger even higher premiums.

If she only heard our thoughts

Time to go shopping … bye … bye …

There was a news article not too long ago about how insurance rates have skyrocketed. Which isn’t very surprising. Things like this go in a cycle.

Insurance is cheap → People buy insurance and stop caring about fraud/theft/etc because now someone else is footing the bill for it → Insurance gets expensive and/or imposes limitations/requirements → People have to solve the root of the problem instead of trying to pass the buck to someone else else → Rates go down again

At some point if the claims are > premiums the cost is going to come back onto the insured. And the easier/less risky it is to steal stuff because the owners aren’t protecting it, the more people start stealing and the problem compounds very quickly.

We don’t think rates go down … Rates basically remain at the level they were raised to and wait until the inflationary factors are again felt in the amount of losses the insurance company experiences. During the period leading up to the next inflationary loss increase, the value tends to regain it’s low cost value in the eyes of the consumer because it becomes within their budget again. But rates don’t go down.

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Well, REAL rates go down I guess, which is kinda close enough. And this phenomenon you mention is likely why the situation is the way it is now. They’ve held rates steady for a long period of time and we’ve had massive inflation the past few years.

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I do too, as a homeowner have insurance however, I don’t think we (the person in the story) are talking about the same thing.

Yes I, we, the company also has insurance. Though I have my own policy in my right pocket sorry, to those that do not live where this is allowed.

Something to think about.

I’m just saying that in my ethos, having insurance never gets in my way of also taking needed precautions and taking responsibility for preventing problems.

I would pay for the $10 locks on plenty of containers, like I pay for shipping insurance on items over a certain amount.

And I wouldn’t think much of a homeowner failing to protect their house, possessions, and most importantly people, just because they “have insurance”–though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the corners some businesses will cut.

I have homeowners insurance, personal vehicle insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, and business liability insurance, and my attitude towards all of them is I dont want to ever have to use them.


Never used my homeowners, vehicle insurances have been used but never my fault, and business liability is there if I need it.


Well, one big thing is the fact that the thinking and attitudes are different when you’re caring for a business you own.

I used to work for “the man” so I understand that side’s mindset. Everything I did there was for the purposes of trying to advance my career or earn a bigger bonus. Then the financial crisis happened, any career advancement opportunities dried up, and bonuses promised weren’t paid, so I basically lost motivation to do any work whatsoever.

When companies are paying their managers a bonus for bringing this quarter’s costs down, things like properly securing things gets corners cut because the costs of higher insurance premiums for excessive claims doesn’t show up until next year, at which point the manager who earned a new title for their cost cutting moved on to greener pastures.

Wall street is very myopic when it comes to evaluating a company’s performance, and that shortsighted view ripples throughout corporate management from top to bottom as a result.


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