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Supply Chain News: Value of US Q1 Cargo Thefts Up 73%, New Report Says


Major Jump comes Even as Number of Thefts were Flat, CargoNet Says

June 1, 2022

Fresh analysis from freight security firm CargoNet finds cargo theft losses in the United States and Canada rose to $19 million in Q1, representing a 73% increase over Q1 2021 despite the fact that the number of thefts reported in the quarter stayed at 319.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


In another trend, some thieves engage in what some in the industry call “shell game tactics,” in which they move freight out of one trailer into a completely different one.

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That obviously indicates thieves were targeting more valuable cargo, such as electronics, automobiles, and auto parts, CargoNet says, adding that the rising value of many goods due to inflation also played role in the rise in value.

The average value of a theft in Q1 was $232,000, a 68% increase over Q1 2021 and more than double the average theft value in the first quarter of 2020, which was just $106,000.

The CargoNet data should be considered as estimates, as cargo theft reporting isn’t mandatory, so statistics can sometimes be skewed. Still, the magnitude of the rise in theft value is almost certainly indicative of a real trend among thieves.

CargoNet says the focus on higher value goods is in part the result of organized crime rings becoming increasingly involved in pilfering cargo.

In an interview with the ATA’s Transport Topics on-line, Scott Cornell, crime and theft specialist at Travelers insurance, said that worrisome trends include identity theft, fictitious pickups and “double brokering” scams.

Cornell noted that in the past thieves would often impersonate a trucking company, get the load from the freight broker, and take off. In another version, thieves impersonate the trucking company then turn around and act as a freight broker and broker it out to somebody else.

So some thieves impersonate the freight brokers, stealing directly from shippers.

One area where organize crime is really having a major impact on cargo theft is in the dispersion of stolen freight very quickly. For example, in 2021 thieves heisted a truck in Texas full of more than $500,000 of chilled beef – all gone by the time the truck was discovered a few days later.

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In another trend, some thieves engage in what some in the industry call “shell game tactics,” in which they move freight out of one trailer into a completely different one.

The report notes that from 2010 to 2020, food and beverage was the top commodity stolen, but there was a shift to household goods in the pandemic. With the shortage in components such as chips and laptops, it is natural that electronics took the number 1 spot in 2021 and kept that rank in Q1 of this year.

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