Cargo Theft Activity Expected to Increase this Week

CargoNet, has been analyzing theft data between December 23 and January 2 for the past five holiday seasons in an effort to help trucking companies and other supply chain organizations avoid theft this holiday.

A snapshot of the events, including theft by state, commodity type, location type, theft type, and loss value from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2.

Over the past five years, there as been a rise in theft incidents reported to the CargoNet command center during the holiday season. The company reported that supply chain theft activity is “extremely elevated” this year and they believe it will continue this way through the holiday season as experienced cargo thieves seek to take advantage of target-rich environments such as unattended trucks and closed warehouses.

Theft and fraud complaints filed with CargoNet between August 1 and December 14 are up 27% year-over year. Complaints filed between December 1 and December 14 are up 40% year-over-year according to the company.

CargoNet Chart
A snapshot of the events, including theft by state, commodity type, location type, theft type, and loss value from Dec. 23 through Jan. 2. Source: CargoNet

Over the past five years it has been noted that in the period between December 23 and January 2, the number of theft incidents has increased progressively each year. The highest occurrence of incidents was in Texas and California, each with 18% of all incidents. Other hotspots included Georgia, Florida, and Illinois.

The most common targets are unattended vehicles and shipments parked at major retail parking lots and truck stops, though CargoNet mentions that incidents at fenced truck yards weren’t far behind.

According to their data, electronics such as TVs and computers are a favorite target among cargo thieves. They also predict that the cost and scarcity of some food and beverage products such as meat and seafood could make them attractive targets this holiday season as well. Other attractive targets include shipments of tires, motor oil, and major appliances.

“This holiday season, we’re extremely concerned about specific categories of freight that may be targeted through complex fraud and misdirection schemes that have exploded in popularity in California and are spreading to other states,” CargoNet said.

A common scheme is thieves misrepresenting themselves as legitimate truck drivers to brokers and bidding on truckload shipments for items such as solar panels, cryptocurrency mining equipment, motor oil, tires, appliances, and more. If their bid is accepted, thieves will misdirect the shipment through a series of cross-dock warehouses and then ultimately to themselves. When this happens, it can take victims weeks to realized what has happened as thieves will often produce fictitious proof of delivery documents before disappearing. The chances of recovering shipments stolen in this manner is very low.

So, what can carriers and drivers do to help mitigate theft? Stay vigilant. Always verify the legitimacy of any brokers that offer to hire them to pick up a shipment and deliver it to a nearby cross-dock as opposed to the consignee address. Try not to leave trucks unattended, and if you must, choose the location wisely. Keep your eyes and ears open for suspicious activity, and hey, watch out for your fellow drivers as well out there.