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Focus: Transportation Management

Feature Article from Our Transportation Management Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target E-Magazine

- March 16, 2015 -


Supply Chain News: Total Number of US Cargo Thefts Down in 2014, FreightWatch Says, but Criminals Getting More Sophisticated, as Value per Theft Soars vs 2013


90 Percent of 2014 Thefts from Unsecured Lots, Thieves Use of Jamming Technology Rising

SCDigest Editorial Staff


Cargo theft in the US continued to be a major issue in 2014, with the total number of incidents down a bit from the previous year, while the value of the cargo per incident soared, as the thieves continue to be more organized and innovative.

SCDigest Says:

FreightWatch says it found the use of signal interference devices (jammers) in three cargo theft related incidents in 2014.
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All that from the analysts at FreightWatch International, which has just released its 2014 report on cargo theft activity in the US.

In 2014, US cargo thefts were down 12% in terms of incidents - but that still meant there were 794 thefts during the year, a sizable number, or about 66 per month on average.

However, while the total number of incidents was down a bit, the value of the cargo involved was way up year over year, after a couple of flat years in terms of that average value. The average value per theft last year rose 36%, to just about $233,000. As recently as 2010, however, the average value per incident was around $500,000.

The number of total cargo thefts and their average value is shown in the graphic below.

As opposed to other parts of the world, including areas of Europe, violent cargo hijackings are almost unheard of in the US. FreightWatch says that as usual the vast, the vast preponderance of cargo thefts last year came trucks being left unattended.

"90% of all thefts in 2014 occurred when the truck was stationary and unattended. The reported severity of this is most illustrative when compared to other similar western countries (such as United Kingdom or Germany) where a comparative number would be 20%," FreightWatch notes. "U.S. criminals have not had to resort to escalating their tactics as a target-rich environment of unsecured opportunities continues to be present."

Along the same lines, FreightWatch says that in 2014 87% of all thefts with a known location occurred within areas of "unsecured parking." The most frequently targeted unsecured parking areas were truck stops with 42% of the total, public parking with 23%, and roadsides at 15% of all thefts.



Source: FreightWatch

Conversely, theft from secured parking fell from 11% of known locations in 2013 to a miniscule 2% in 2014.

(Transportation Management Article Continued Below)



This represents a major opportunity for industry to strengthen their supply chains by identifying and ensuring drivers utilize secured parking whenever possible,” FreightWatch says - that even as the lack of parking spots is emerging as a key issue in US logistics. (See Forget the Driver Shortage - Parking Spots for Truckers Increasingly Hard to Find.)

FreightWatch says that the 2014 data shows that US cargo thieves continue to be more organized and innovative, noting that would-be thieves are increasingly targeting shipments of electronics, where thefts of cargo worth more than one million dollars tripled in 2014.

The graphic below shows the incidents of US cargo thefts in 2014 by type of product/industry sector. Thefts for food and beverage products continued to represent the top spot.



Source: FreightWatch

At a state level, Florida topped the 2014 list with a little over 20 incidents, just above California, which dropped from its number 1 position in 2013 with a significant decrease in incidents in 2014. Texas, Georgia and New Jersey rounded out the top five. Most states had very few if any incidents beyond these leaders.

Cargo Theft Trends

FreightWatch calls out a couple of important trends in cargo thievery:

Targeting: FreightWatch says organized criminals will continue to conduct surveillance on intended targets. Counter-surveillance operations must be conducted in order to interdict the criminal’s efforts during the attack planning cycle. The shift of 2014 reported numbers by commodity and location are an indication of improved targeting of static and in-transit targets.

Use of Jamming Technology: FreightWatch says it found the use of signal interference devices (jammers) in three cargo theft related incidents in 2014. Although these attempts were unsuccessful, the threat of signal jamming represents a potential new threat in the United States to cargo that uses tracking technology to protect against potential theft.

It sure seems like shippers could do some simple things to reduce their risk.

Do you think the threat of cargo theft is getting worse or better? What are the keys to reducing the risk? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button (for email) or section (for web form) below.



Recent Feedback

The cargo theft would get worst if there is no prevention. We could invent a system that tells us immediately if the product moves in a wrong direction, along with the weight of each box.


theft reduction
Mar, 25 2015