As it turned out, while the nation’s eyes were glued to Chicago’s shooting and homicide counts, Chicago has also developed a problem of train robberies, more than 400 in the last few years, where gangs have been able to steal large amounts of firearms that were being transported from one part of the country to another.
“In one robbery, at least 100 new Ruger handguns were lifted from a freight train car,” reports the Daily Mail.
“Any time you have individuals who can go in and steal guns from a train, that makes the environment very toxic,” said Pastor Cory Brooks, whose church is near a freight yard, to Fox News.
The Daily Mail reports:
At least one of those weapons is linked back to 14 fatal shootings, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
‘How in the world are these kids getting these guns? I see them on Facebook. Everybody got guns,’ said Chicago Alderwoman Emma Mitts.
‘They can’t go purchase a gun, so where are they getting them from?’
Mitts says the rail yard, Norfolk Southern, needs to strengthen its security before the weapons get into the hands of violent criminals.
‘We need to be concerned about terrorists who could get into these areas unprotected here and steal things and explosives and really hurt our communities,’ Pastor Brooks told Fox News.
Company officials say the yard is doing all it can.
‘Norfolk Southern’s Chicago-based police department, the largest freight railroad law enforcement force in the city, is increasing patrols of rail yards using uniformed officers in marked cars and K-9 units,’ Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Susan Terpay said in an email to Fox News.
‘In addition, the department is conducting undercover surveillance investigations.’
Chicago’s leaders regularly blame lax gun laws in Illinois and nearby states that enable a flow of illegal weapons to the city’s gangs and criminals. But community leaders and security experts say no one seems to be taking responsibility for train-yard gun thefts.
Only 16 of the stolen Rugers have been recovered since the 2015 break-in, according to hundreds of recent court records reviewed by The Associated Press.
One was used in a January 22, 2016, shooting. Police woke an attempted-murder suspect and found one by his bed.
Another was in a dealer’s home alongside 429 bags of heroin. Police recovered another during a traffic stop; the driver said his friend had just been shot 10 times and he had to protect himself.
‘It’s a war going on over here,’ he told police.
On the night of the theft, gang members found and kept a shipment of women’s sandals, according to filings in the federal case of seven suspects arrested later in 2015.
Finding guns later was luck, not an inside job, prosecutors said. New pretrial filings describe one thief using expletives to convey the excitement as he ripped open boxes of guns: ‘Oh man!’ he says. ‘These … are pretty!’