Cargo Theft on the Rise, Reports NICB

23 Dec 2020

The 15th annual Cargo Theft Summit, hosted by the NICB, was on September 29th. As millions of individuals in the U.S. try their best to limit the spread of COVID-19, the industry of transportation is continuing to transport medications, food, and other needed items all over the country. But, thieves who wanted to steal items like these haven’t let stay home policies stop them.

Because of COVID-19, the summit was conducted this year as a webinar and around 500 law enforcement, insurance professionals and trucking professionals attended and listened to the invited speakers’ presentations.

In the U.S. cargo theft is an up to $35 billion industry. And, thieves can easily make out with millions of dollars depending on what’s inside the truck.

The FBI states cargo theft is where criminals take any cargo, including things like chattels, goods, baggage, money and more that constitutes in part or in whole, a commercial freight shipment that moves in commerce from any:

  • Railroad car
  • Pipeline system
  • Storage facility
  • Tank
  • Vehicle
  • Station house
  • Aircraft
  • Depot
  • Vessel
  • Air navigation facility
  • Container freight station
  • Freight consolidation facility
  • And so on

Since the weekend of Labor Day, panelists took note of an increase in thefts while in certain cases recoveries were made even as the criminals were unloading the cargo.

Sadly, the issue with cargo theft these days has been affected greatly by COVID-19’s effects. While being told to stay home, according to the presenters of the summit, thieves continued working in the same manner as they always have, but law enforcement must change how it works because of the virus.

The issue with cargo theft is not necessarily how much is stolen, but exactly what’s stolen. Some common items targeted include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food
  • Beverages

Because of this, consumers could be getting old drugs or food, both with possibly terminal effects.

The NICB suggests a “layered approach” to limit the effect of such theft, including:

  1. Training employees and ensuring truck drivers are educated in hijack prevention and awareness. Training safeguards the trailer, tractor, employee, customers and cargo.
  2. Screening all staff, including warehouse employees, drivers and individuals with shipping information access.
  3. Taking advantage of technology, installation of alarm systems and being sure to respond to all alerts. Make sure the building doors, perimeter entrances and windows are lit up well. Cargo and vehicle tracking, advanced security seals and immobilizers are available.
  4. GPS asset tracking to locate stolen cargo quickly.
  5. Conducting supply chain audits and looking for shipment protection gaps.
  6. Keeping a vigilant eye. Including counter surveillance in security guard duties. Cargo and trucks are most susceptible to theft when sitting idle.

Also extremely important to shippers and should also be for consumers too is brand integrity. Consumers, from a safety standpoint, should be able to trust what they’re consuming is indeed safe to consume.

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