2013 International Trucking Industry News – Decline in Cargo Theft Incidents Becoming a Trend

Cargo theft is a type of economic crime that involves the taking of cargo without the owner’s consent. Cargo theft usually involves the three following criminal activities: Break and enter, motorcycle theft, and retail theft.

It is an international problem that affects both consumers and businesses. In today’s global economy, raw materials that are being manufactured and sourced occurs in one part of the world, while the finished product is warehoused and consumed in another part. Cargo can be stolen at any point in between, which compromises availability and product integrity.

A well-executed cargo theft is highly coordinated, and pre-planned. Goods that are stolen are moved quickly to a warehouse, off-loaded, repackaged, re-manifested, and then placed onto another vehicle, sometimes before the thief is discovered or identified. This form of “illegitimate supply chain” is managed by organized crime operations that have the ability to move, transfer, load, and distribute stolen goods in a matter of hours. Nowadays, the virtual economy works against legitimate businesses by assisting with the distribution of the stolen goods through auction sites, and online markets.

If shippers can understand the way cargo thieves plan and accomplish these attacks, then they can protect themselves against these sorts of crimes.

Compared to last year, reports of cargo theft in the US have been showing a steep decline. And now people are wondering if this is the start of a new trend or if they are being marred by the lack of national standards in reporting cargo theft incidents?

The third quarter, also known as the peak time for goods to be shipped during the Christmas season, is usually the period of highest thief activity during the year.

An article by Forbes Magazine dating November 12 talks about the latest cargo theft numbers for the third quarter of 2013, which saw 195 incidents, compared to the same quarter of 2012, which had 285 incidents, according to the SC-ISAC. The SC-ISAC is sponsored by the International Cargo Security Council, which, according to their official website, “collects, analyzes, and disseminates security intelligence across the supply chain industry”.

One of the main factors in motivating shippers to take steps in protecting themselves is being aware of their surroundings.

Some of the companies that were usually targeted for theft include pharmaceutical companies and tobacco. But now, they have taken the necessary precautions in order to prevent theft from happening. In most cases, police and law enforcement has relied on the industry to investigate these thefts. But the development of these regional cargo-theft taskforces is a positive step.

According to Doug Morris, the OOIDA director of security operations, cargo-theft task forces, which didn’t exist back then, are starting to become more rampant now. Law enforcement is also stepping up. There are more interactions with loss-prevention personnel.

Morris, along with the director of law enforcement services with Supply Chain Information and Analysis Center, JJ Coughlin, have both said that one of the biggest challenges when it comes to cargo theft is the lack of reliable data about its frequency. The Forbes article has estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all instances are reported to SC-ISAC, but Morris claims that the percent of reported incidents is actually closer to 10 percent.

A private and logistics and security firm, FreightWatch International is also in charge of tracking down and publishing quarterly reports about cargo theft in the United States. On October 23, in the company’s most recent report covering the third quarter of 1013, there were reports of over 231 thefts in the US. This was an equal number of incidents in the third quarter of 2012. This report has also noted that the company expects totals for the most recent quarter to rise above 2012 levels, because of the delays in incident reporting.

Coughlin has said that a lot of times, it really depends on the consistency of the reporting and the reporting itself. “There’s really not a national system in place either through law enforcement, or through the industry. It could either be a reporting anomaly, or it could be a trend.”

The International Cargo Security Council (ICSC)

The International Cargo Security Council is a professional association of cargo transportation and security professionals that come from the entire field of cargo security. These include air, truck, rail, maritime, and intermodal.

The ICSC is committed to assuring the safe and secure movement of the nation’s commerce. Its membership houses voluntary government and industry efforts. It serves as a clearinghouse to distribute and collect info to stop crimes related to cargo. It provides platforms to address transportation security issues. And lastly, it supports initiatives volunteered by the government, as well as the transportation industry, to develop good programs that fight cargo-related crime.

The South Carolina Information and Sharing and Analysis Center (SC-ISAC) is designed to give up-to-the-minute information about potential threats and suspicious activities. This includes other kinds of criminal activity that could infringe the safety and integrity of a supply chain.

The trucking company that is involved will be held liable for the loss, and will have to pay the supplier for the stolen goods. Even if the company has insurance, it doesn’t always cover the entire loss because of the policy deductible. Making a report about the theft may result in higher insurance premiums next year. The trucking company may also raise rates for the future shipments of the stolen product, to cover the losses that it incurred either through pocket expenses or through paying higher insurance premiums. These additional costs will be passed onto the retailer, which, in turn, will pass it over to the customers.


Companies can take a whole number of action to improve their facilities and vehicle securities. They can implement security devices and technologies, in order to create common-sense security practices.

These following tips can help prevent and mitigate losses that are associated with cargo theft:

Go high tech – Tracking tools like GPS can determine a stolen vehicle’s location. Immobilization of vehicles can also be used to temporarily disable stolen vehicles and aid in it’s recovery.

Go low tech – A variety of locks to secure the vehicles can prevent the tractor and trailer from being separated. Seals can limit intrusions as well, and create an alert that the vehicle’s doors are tampered.


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