North Carolina is set to fortify its stance against cargo theft with a new law taking effect on Dec 1. Governor Roy Cooper has signed a bill to intensify punishment for thefts involving trucks, rail, or container cargo, addressing a concern raised by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). The law categorizes offenses based on the value of the stolen property.
Under the new law, theft convictions in North Carolina will no longer be uniformly classified as Class I felonies, with a fixed 24-month prison term. Instead, varying penalties will apply based on the value of the stolen cargo over a 90-day period across the state. Stolen cargo ranging from $1,501 to $20,000 will be a Class H felony with a potential 39-month imprisonment. Higher-value thefts, up to $100,000, will escalate to Class C felonies, carrying sentences of up to 231 months in prison. Offenders involved in thefts below $1,500 face a Class I offense.
Additionally, the law enables the seizure and forfeiture of any conveyance used in committing the crime. Senator Danny Britt, R-Robeson, highlighted the law’s focus on combatting retail cargo theft, positioning North Carolina as the eighth-highest state for this crime nationally.
“We are one of the hot spots for cargo theft,” Britt said.
The urgency for stricter penalties is underscored by statistics revealing that nearly 3,000 individuals were charged with a Class I felony related to cargo theft in 2022. The third quarter of 2023 saw a 59% year-over-year increase in cargo theft events across the United States and Canada, amounting to over $31.1 million in stolen shipments. The rise is partially attributed to ongoing shipment misdirection attacks.
“[The attacks are] a kind of strategic cargo theft in which actors use stolen motor carrier and logistics broker identities to obtain freight and misdirect it from the intended receiver so they could steal it,” said CargoNet, a company committed to stopping cargo theft.
The OOIDA, a long-time advocate for tougher penalties in cargo and truck theft cases, welcomes North Carolina’s move and encourages other states to adopt similar measures. Doug Morris, OOIDA Director of Safety Operations, emphasized the Association’s commitment to combating cargo theft through stringent sentencing and penalties.
“Many states continue to overlook the fact that a stolen load of goods could be worth tens of thousands of dollars and, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Morris said. “The new sentencing guidelines for North Carolina will undoubtedly be a deterrent for cargo-theft thieves. … Lawmakers should also include theft via fraudulent brokers, but many states do not understand the complexities to the fraudulent broker scheme.”
Source: Land Line