Great Train (Boxcar) Robbery

Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

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Great Train (Boxcar) Robbery

Postby mdamico23 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 9:46 am

Hi Everyone,

I am looking for info regarding what I understand was a bizzare incident in Penn Central's history. Around 1970 or 1971, I read that an obscure Illinois shortline, the LaSalle & Bureau County Railroad, was the subject of an FBI investigation regarding the theft of several hundred Penn Central 40' boxcars. From what i understand, the LS&BC would order cars from Penn Central, and when they arrived, they would repaint them and put their own reporting marks on the cars. They got away with it, at least for a while, due to poor car accounting practices on PC. This was right around the beginning of the incentive per diem boxcar leasing programs, so I am wondering if the LS&BC's motive was to then lease out these cars to other railroads and thus earn income on them. Not sure how long this lasted or whether the LS&BC had to make restitution to PC once they were discovered or if they had "inside help" from anyone within Penn Central's car or accounting departments.

Does anyone have recollection of this story or recall seeing any "reflagged" LS&BC boxcars during this era?

Thanks..

-Mike
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Re: Great Train (Boxcar) Robbery

Postby PRRGuy » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:51 pm

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Re: Great Train (Boxcar) Robbery

Postby Bigt » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:51 am

If I remember correctly, Trains magazine did an article on it, as well as one of the railroad modelling
magazines. Both explanations seem plausible. Remember the story how the PC "lost" an entire unit
train?
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Re: Great Train (Boxcar) Robbery

Postby BR&P » Sat May 26, 2012 11:32 am

I'm a bit late to the party, but this is how I understood it happened.

LSBC bought X number of surplus old boxcars from PC. Let's say they were in the 123000 series. Because LSBC handled a lot of cars to and from PC, they were able to keep their eyes open for nice new PC cars in the (let's say) 456000 series. Supposedly they would swap numbers, and the junky old cars went out as PC 456xxx and the LSBC kept the nice new ones, now lettered LSBC 123xxx. I heard it finally came to light because PC was receiving an unusually high number of repair bills for what should have been nice new cars. I think a couple of the LSBC honchos were hit with criminal charges.

Again I'm not able to document that but to the best of my recall that's what I read. If I'm wrong I'd welcome correction.

And the joke at the time was "LSBC" stood for "Let's Steal Box Cars" :P
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