Already elevated cargo theft numbers expected to climb during holidays

Cargo theft map

Truckers should be aware that incidents of cargo theft have increased in the last several months, and are expected to increase even more during the upcoming holidays.

CargoNet reports supply chain theft activity is "extremely elevated" and believes it will continue into the holiday season as cargo thieves seek to exploit unattended trucks and closed warehouses. Theft and fraud complaints filed with CargoNet between Aug.1 and Dec. 14 are up 27% year-over-year. Complaints filed between Dec.1 and Dec. 14 are up 40% year-over-year.

CargoNet said it examined theft data between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 for the past five holiday seasons. In their analysis, CargoNet said there were 176 incidents reported with an average value of $116,030. The number of incidents increased progressively each year. Last holiday season, there were 42 incidents reported between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.

Incidents were most common in Texas and California, tied at 18% of incidents in each state. Incidents were also common in other major cargo theft hotspots like Georgia, Florida, and Illinois, respectively. Thieves most often stole unattended vehicles and shipments parked at major retail parking lots and truck stops. However, CargoNet said thefts from fenced truck yards were a close third.

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Electronics like televisions and computers were favored by cargo thieves in CargoNet's analysis. However, the company said, "commodity preferences closely mimic consumer demand." The cost and scarcity of some food and beverage products like meat and seafood will make them attractive targets this holiday. Cargo thieves also targeted shipments of tires, motor oil, and major appliances, which remain attractive targets.

This holiday season, CargoNet said it's "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.

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RELATED NEWS: 102 million travelers expected on highways this holiday season

CaroNet offers steps trucking companies and drivers can take to reduce the risk of theft. They include:

  • Making sure that both security managers and drivers have accurate license plate, VIN, and descriptive information for tractors, trailers, containers, and container chassis. Police agencies will need this information to open an investigation in the event of an incident. Drivers should keep this information on them so they can quickly reference it if their truck is stolen.
  • Securing all trailers (loaded and unloaded) with high-security ISO 17712- compliant barrier seals in combination with hardened padlocks.
  • Using king pin locks for unattached trailers.
  • Securing all tractors with high-security locking devices, such as air-cuff and steering column locks.
  • Reminding drivers to arrive at the point of pickup well-rested, showered, and fed and with a full tank of fuel.
  • Avoiding having loaded trailers sit unattended when employees are not present.

CargoNet encourages victims to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately and contact CargoNet at 888-595-2638 only after law enforcement has been notified and there are no immediate threats to life or property.