“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, who leads a church around the corner from the freight yard.
The ATF said that since 2013, more than 150 firearms have been reported stolen from freight trains. An Associated Press investigation revealed that some were traced to violent crimes and only 16 were recovered.
One hundred and fifty guns don’t seem like much but one single gun can be linked to at least 14 fatal shootings, according to the ATF. In one instance, thieves stole more than 100 new Ruger handguns described as “pretty” in comparison to the shoddy, makeshift guns criminals in Chicago’s rough streets often use.
Brooks and Mitts both partially blame Norfolk Southern, the rail yard, saying it could easily beef up security to protect the sitting freight on its tracks. They said the company needs to do something before the weapons get in the hands of more dangerous 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,” Brooks said.
Norfolk Southern told Fox News that it’s fully liable for any stolen property. The company said it takes the issue seriously, working with all law levels of law enforcement and recently increasing security around its tracks.
“While we can’t discuss the specifics of the ongoing investigations, we are taking significant steps to evaluate and adapt our security protocols, prevent criminal trespass and address community concerns,” Norfolk Southern spokeswoman Susan Terpay wrote in an email.
Then logic says don’t ship guns by rail.
Fox News noticed a very responsive presence of security near the train yard.
“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,” Terpay wrote. “In addition, the department is conducting undercover surveillance investigations.”
The company is hoping that beefed-up security at the rail yard would appease neighbors trying to keep guns out criminal hands in one of America’s deadliest communities.
“It only compounds that damage being done to our city,” Brooks said, “and it only hurts the individuals who are trying to live here and have a safe environment.”