With a number of cargo containers backed up at the California ports, there is a new issue that the U.S. supply chain is having to contend with as it looks to offload goods in time for the holidays – theft.

Scott Cornell, Travelers’ crime and theft specialist, told CBS’ “Money Watch,” “The more that the supply chain, in general, is backed up, the more cargo you're going to have sitting. And that creates a bigger opportunity for thefts.”

According to Business Insider, thieves are targeting cargo containers that are filled with electronics and household goods, which is only causing more product delays for consumers.

Thousands of boxes have been tossed around railroad tracks in Los Angeles from cargo containers hauled by Union Pacific trains, KNBC, an NBC affiliate out of Los Angeles, reported. Many were reported to be empty.

The area of the tracks where the boxes were found is bordered by homeless encampments on both sides, KNBC said.

Union Pacific confirmed the stolen goods to the news outlet, saying in a statement that it is aware of the thefts and is working with local law enforcement to address the issue.

A port spokesperson told KNBC on Monday that all cargo containers at the port are within secure areas.

As of Monday, as many as 77 container ships remained docked outside the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, California, waiting to be offloaded.

President Joe Biden announced in October that the ports would move to 24/7 operations to help with the bottleneck, but the ports have said they can’t increase their work schedules until trucking companies and warehouses increase their operations, KNBC said.

As much as $45 million in cargo thefts have been reported from January to September, according to CargoNet, which tracks thefts along the supply chain for companies, and as reported by CBS News. In 2020, cargo thefts reached $68 million, and in 2019 they hit $49 million, CargoNet reported.

Port of Los Angeles
Cargo containers sit idle as a back-log of container ships sit anchored outside the Port in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2015. Reuters/Bob Riha, Jr.