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Cargo Theft in U.S. On the Rise

Source: FreightWatch

Posted on 20 Jan 2012

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FreightWatch recorded 974 cargo theft incidents throughout the United States in 2011 — an 8.3% increase over 2010. This represents the highest number of theft incidents per year on record.

With an average of 81.2 cargo theft incidents per month, the United States supply chain sustained large-scale theft incidents (e.g. full truckload/ container thefts, warehouse burglaries, driver thefts, etc.) at a rate of 2.67 incidents per day.

Of the 974 cargo thefts recorded, 853 (87.5%) were full-truckload or container thefts and 34 (3.4%) were facility burglaries. 2011 also saw a rash of pickups by deception (fictitious), with 38 recorded for the year. The 38 thefts accounted for 4% of all incidents. Violence remained an insignificant statistical proportion of cargo theft incidents in the United States, accounting for only 1% of the total incidents recorded for the year.

Major Trends

One of the most noticeable trends in 2011 was the continued decline in cargo theft incidents targeting the Electronics sector. In 2006, this sector comprised 38% of all recorded supply chain theft incidents in the United States, while in 2011 it recorded just 17%. The most commonly targeted product type for the second year in a row was Food/Drinks at 22%, followed by Electronics at 17% and Building/Industrial products at 14%.

Deceptive pickups continued to rise in 2011, increasing to 29 on the year, up from 24 in 2010. From April 20 through May 5, eight deceptive pickups occurred across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and New York, involving goods across four different product types. This is just one example of organized criminal gangs’ effective use of ambiguity in the supply chain process to obtain product — and in this case have the victims literally hand over the cargo to them.

While the rate of cargo theft has continued to climb annually, the average value per incident dropped substantially in 2011, decreasing by 31% for the year. While numerous factors contribute to the decline in the average loss value, the largest factors include a lack of multiple $1 million-plus incidents, a dramatic decrease in the average value of Pharmaceutical thefts and an increase in theft of lower valued product types, specifically from the Food/Drinks industry.