Study Takes A Look At Trends In Cargo Theft

LoJack Supply Chain Integrity (LoJack SCI) recently released results from its first annual cargo theft study, which is based on information the company collected and analyzed from its members in 2008 via its Supply Chain-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (SC-ISAC).

The SC-ISAC is the only source for information and analysis sanctioned by the government that helps the supply chain community and law enforcement protect the supply chain from illegal and disruptive activities, such as theft, terrorism and natural disasters.

The data is based on reports provided by SC-ISAC members, which currently totals more than 1,500 users from nearly 600 organizations. According to the data reported, a total of 353 incidents occurred in 2008. Cargo theft was the most dominant activity with 299 cases.

"We're pleased to furnish the results of our first report, which is in line with our mission to provide members with information that helps protect their businesses from disruptive breaks in the supply chain and make informed decisions that preserve integrity within the chain," said Robert Furtado, LoJack SCI's CEO. "As this study reveals, cargo theft is a serious, ongoing problem that is very profitable for professional thieves and very costly for organizations throughout the supply chain. Especially in today's economic climate, companies cannot afford to pay the exorbitant price tag involved with having their cargoes stolen, which range from the actual value of the goods, to business downtime, to the loss of opportunities to market and sell seasonal goods, to the total loss of product sales. This report clearly highlights the need for solutions that protect and preserve our global supply chain."

According to the data reported, following are the top 10 states with the highest incidents of theft:

  State                                  Number of Incidents

  Texas                                  68
  Georgia                                53
  Tennessee                              18
  California                             16
  Florida                                16
  Ohio                                   10
  Arkansas                               9
  New Jersey                             9
  Alabama                                8
  North Carolina                         8

Based on reported incidents of theft, following are the most common locations where cargo was stolen in 2008:

  Location                               Number of Incidents

  Truck Stops                            83
  Parking lots (including drop yards)    67
  Facilities                             40
  Parked on Street                       28
  Warehouses                             21
  Store Locations                        16
  Other* (see list below)                11

  *airports, casinos, ports, hotels

A significant number of thefts (87) were reported without details on theft location; however, it is most likely that the same dispersal of locations would apply to those incidents as well.

Not a surprise to law enforcement or most victims of theft is the fact that weekends (Saturday and Sunday) are when the greatest number of thefts occur, with 168 incidents happening during this timeframe.

Below is a breakout of theft activity by day of the week:

  Day of Week                            Number of Incidents

  Saturday/Sunday                        168
  Monday                                 46
  Thursday                               40
  Tuesday                                39
  Wednesday                              37
  Friday                                 23

Food was the most often stolen cargo at 13 percent of the incidents reported to the SC-ISAC. It was closely followed by pharmaceutical/medical and building supplies, both of which came in at 12 percent. The unusually high percentage of building supplies thefts may be due in part to the rise in copper prices and the lack of oversight on the origins of scrap materials.

Recently enacted laws addressing ownership of materials for recyclers may help to reduce this current theft trend. Also surprising was the fact that the music/movies/software category came in at only one percent of incidents reported.

"According to our analysis of the data, food and drugs are essentials that are always a target of thieves, but especially so in a depressed economy," Furtado said. "That may explain why those items topped the list, while 'nice-to-have' items like music, movies and software came in at only one percent. The bottom line is that whether economy is good or challenging, it is critical for a company to protect its cargo."

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