Solutions to Rapidly Increasing Cargo Theft

cargo theft

Documented strategic cargo theft events increased 430% year over-year in 2023, according to CargoNet, a cargo industry publication.

Much of the increase in cargo theft has been due to ongoing shipment misdirection attacks, in which thieves use stolen motor carrier and logistics broker identities to obtain freight and misdirect it from the intended receiver.

Strategic cargo theft groups have widened their preferred commodity targets to include truckload shipments of metal like copper, brass and aluminum; apparel — especially officially licensed sports apparel; and shipments of personal care and beauty products, the company said.

Thieves continue to pioneer new methods of strategic cargo theft seeking to evade compliance practices used by logistics brokers. Strategic cargo theft groups have shown keen interest in perpetrating fraud against small motor carriers or owner/operators with intent of hijacking their accounts or convincing
them to solicit shipments from logistics brokers on their behalf, according to CargoNet.

Cargo Theft by State

While thefts occur in nearly every state, a few stand out as the biggest targets for cargo theft. The top 10 states are:

  1. California (1,770)
  2. Texas (1,255)
  3. Florida (921)
  4. Illinois (712)
  5. New Jersey (468)
  6. Georgia (438)
  7. Alabama (214)
  8. North Carolina (204)
  9. Indiana (192)
  10. Missouri (181)

Companies that lose product due to theft face the cost of the lost load, the effort of recovery and increased insurance premiums and deductibles.

But the problem with cargo theft isn’t necessarily the amount of what is stolen, but what is stolen. Common targets include food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, those stealing such products don’t care about expiration dates. As a result, consumers could be getting expired food or drugs, both with potentially terminal impacts.

In 2016, a theft of a truck carrying beef was intercepted on its way to a black-market sale to a restaurant in Dallas, Texas. Stolen food and drugs are often sold online to small “mom-and-pop” shops placing unsuspecting customers at risk.

What To Do About It

To limit the impact of such theft on your transportation company, the NICB recommends organizations to:

  • Screen employees. Conduct a background check to screen all employees, including drivers, warehouse employees, and those with access to the shipping information.
  • Train employees. Provide security training for all employees making certain to educate truck drivers in hijack awareness and prevention. Training safeguards the employee, trailer, tractor, cargo, and customers.
  • Be smart in selecting transportation partners. Check partners before hiring. Make certain they share your security philosophy, such as conducting background checks and employee training.
  • Implement in-transit security measures. Cargo theft can be preplanned or opportunistic. It could also include an inside informant who follows the truck ultimately leading to organized crime or fence to quickly dispose of the goods on the truck. Thieves will often wait outside known shipping facilities waiting for drivers to stop. A good practice is to not stop within the first 200 miles and park in known secure locations and avoid hot spots.
  • Keep a vigilant eye. Include countersurveillance in the duties of your security guards. Trucks and cargo are most vulnerable to theft when sitting idle.
  • Take advantage of technology. Install alarm surveillance systems and respond to all alerts. Ensure the perimeter, entrances, building doors, and windows are well lit. Vehicle and cargo tracking, immobilizers, and advanced security seals are available.
  • Conduct audits. Conduct supply chain audits and look for gaps in shipment protection. Cargo criminals are always coming up with new ways to defeat security systems.

For more information on tailored solutions to protect your business contact BPJ for a quote today.