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Focus: Transportation Management

Feature Article from Our Transportation Management Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

- Sept. 25, 2013 -


Logistics News: Unsafe Transportation World, as US Cargo Thefts Continue On

Number of Incidents and Average Value Rise in Latest 3 Month Period, FreightWatch Says; Basic Moves Can Greatly Reduce Risk; Big Hauls in Alcohol

SCDigest Editorial Staff


Despite obvious improvements in various technologies, processes and training that should play a strong role in reducing cargo thefts, the number of incidents continues on, as the latest report from FreightWatch details.

SCDigest Says:

Basic mistakes, such as unsecured lots or drivers stopping within the first 100 miles of the origin, account for the majority of successful thefts
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In the three-month period from June to August, FreightWatch says there were a total of 202 thefts in the United States, with an average loss value of a substantial $166,454. Compared with the previous quarter, thefts increased by 5%, while the average loss value increased by 9%.

Of course, certain industry sectors were targeted more than others.

Food and drinks, including various meats, cereals, non-alcoholic drinks and prepared foods, was the most commonly targeted, with 45 thefts, which accounted for 22% of all incidents during the three-month period. The electronics industry experienced 29 thefts (14% of the total), mainly consisting of televisions, computers and computer accessories. There were also 25 thefts (12% of all incidents) in the metals sector, including copper, aluminum and steel.

Naturally, larger states tend to have the greater number of incidents, but it isn't a perfect correlation. California remained the state with the most thefts in the three-month period, at 46 (22% of the total). Texas was next, with 34 incidents, while Illinois was third with a 31 reported incidents (14% of the total). Florida dropped from third position to number four, with 24 thefts (12%) in the rolling quarter.

New York, the third largest state after California and Texas, recorded only 5 incidents, however. Pennsylvania had only four, while most states had just one or two thefts in the quarter if that, as shown in the graphic below, which compares the June through August period (blue dots) with the March-May timeframe (red dots).


US Cargo Theft Map of Incidents



Theft of a full trailer or container dominate the list as usual - often from unsecured parking areas, but even secured lots also get hit. Those two types of incidence are followed by theft from a trailer or container, and then driver theft, as shown below.




The types of violent thefts seen in many parts of the world, including Europe, are fortunately a rarity in the US.

And successful cargo thieves can make a pretty good haul.

(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)



The chart below compares the number of incidents versus the average value of the theft by sector. While as noted above thefts of food and beverage products (non-alcoholic) led in terms of number of incidents, the average value of each theft was a little over $100,000.

Conversely, while there were just six incidents involving alcohol, the average loss was some $700,000. The thieves probably raised a toast to that. Clothing/shoes and jewelry thefts also had high average values of about $400,000.

Thefts and Average Value by Sector



The Bottom Line: Cargo theft is hardly going away in the US or around the world, though fortunately in North American rarely involved violence such as hijacking. As FreightWatch has continually noted, simple mistakes, such as unsecured lots or drivers stopping within the first 100 miles of the origin, account for the majority of successful thefts - basic improvements and policies go a long way to reducing the risk.

Are you surprised the number of cargo thefts is as large as it is? Do basic improvements reduce the risk? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (for email) or section (for web form) below.



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