Highlighting the Hotsheet: Cargo Theft Spikes Dramatically in Q1 2015

Highlighting the Hotsheet: Cargo Theft Spikes Dramatically in Q1 2015

CargoNet announced the Q1 statistics for cargo theft and they were dramatic: a full $23 million worth of property was stolen, $14 million more than during the same period last year. This level of activity reverses the perceived trend of 2014, in which cargo thefts actually dipped in volume.

As a veteran of the cargo theft fight, I’d now suggest 2014 numbers were potentially a decline in reporting, rather than a decline in the crime. For myriad reasons – insurance, carrier credibility, etc. -- many companies do not report cargo theft incidents.

What’s Important (and what’s not) About Q1 Statistics

The analysts noted several differentiators from previous quarterly reporting:

  • Most common cargo-crime locations were warehouses and distribution centers, which accounted for 23% of all losses;
  • 33% of cargo thefts were food and beverage ;
  • Average losses increased as well, by $83,329 per theft; and
  • California reported the most incidents, followed by Texas, Georgia, New Jersey and Florida.

The pronounced increase in thefts from carrier facilities, truck stops, and warehouses is likely a fluctuation; in reviewing longer term statistics, the target sites frequently switch headline roles. The variability may arguably have as much to do with reporting changes as they do with thieves changing targets.

What is more significant is the fact that this spike occurred in Q1. Historically, the summer is the when cargo thefts start to rise as retail channels commence inventory accumulation in anticipation of Black Friday. We haven’t even reached the summer.  If cargo thieves are starting this early and are already mining this much success, we could see a significant increase in 2015 overall.

Food and beverage took the honors for the most products stolen in Q1, but this will likely vary throughout the year. The Internet is offering cargo thieves the opportunity to fence anything anonymously, as Moises Naim predicted in 2006 in his book, “Illicit.” No cargo is safe. At Electric Guard Dog, we have even seen thefts of roofing shingles, whose dollar to cubic foot ratio is so low they’ve previously been an unattractive to organized crime.

What You Can Do to Help Fight Cargo Crime

At Electric Guard Dog, we believe in deterrence…deterring thieves from targeting your property and deterring them from the crime itself. We encourage vested supply chain to join us in two notable efforts in the most heavily targeted states: Texas and California.

  • Texas: Cargo Theft bill HB102 is continuing to make its way through the state legislative process; and
  • EGD’s efforts to help California electrical inspectors determine how to identify a safe electric security fence has made it through the California Senate as part of the consent prosecco. The vote in the judiciary committee was 7 to 0 in favor.

Hot off the presses, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NCIB) is also now offering a new manual on commercial Vehicle Identification, the first update in 5 years. We encourage carriers to order it direct from NICB, or welcome you to contact us at EGD.

The only defensible, consistent “trend” in cargo theft is this: The crime will never go away under the status quo. For immediate security of your facilities, a deterrence-based approach will provide your business with the best available protection on the market. For the “long haul,” stiffer criminal penalties for cargo thieves ensure the crime is riskier, and therefore, less attractive, and furthermore, the criminal resources available to commit the crime will be fewer in number. Full support of your local Transportation Security Council will further reduce your risk, and simultaneously assist law enforcement.

About the Author

Jack DeMao is the CEO and president of Electric Guard Dog.

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