Already high for the year, cargo thefts could spike over Labor Day weekend

Updated Sep 3, 2023
Map of cargo thefts in U.S.

CargoNet, a Verisk product, advises that the unprecedented crime wave affecting over-the-road freight transportation in the continental United States shows no signs of slowing down. Last week, theft reports to CargoNet reached their second-highest levels of the year. All supply chain professionals should be concerned with theft risk this upcoming Labor Day holiday, according to a statement from CargoNet.

In order to mitigate risk, CargoNet examined theft trends around the previous five Labor Day holidays. In total, CargoNet recorded 156 events with an average cargo value of $151,726 per event. Theft was highest in 2022 when CargoNet said it recorded 44 events.

In previous years, cargo thieves preferred to steal valuable shipments of televisions, computers, and major appliances. Thefts were most common near major supply chain hubs in Southern California, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Memphis, and Atlanta. There were no fictitious pickups reported in this analysis period, but these kinds of thefts are the main threat professionals should look out for this year.

CargoNet warns of increased targeting of shipments of building materials such as shingles, lumber, and power tools in response to extreme weather events in the Southeast.

Shipment misdirection schemes, a kind of fictitious pickup, remain the most pervasive threat to domestic, over-the-road freight transportation this upcoming holiday. CargoNet said it has recorded over 600 shipment misdirection attacks or attempts since November of 2022. In these schemes, attackers impersonate a motor carrier to gain authorization to transport a shipment and then hire a motor carrier to deliver the shipment to a location they have access to so they can steal the shipment. Attackers often impersonate two or three different companies to disguise their identities and deceive their victims, according to CargoNet.

 These attacks target a wide variety of goods from every state in the continental United States, but attackers have shown a preference for stealing truckload shipments of solar panels, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, motor oil, and consumer electronics.

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Attacks can be mitigated with enhanced security protocols, said CargoNet's statement. Shippers should consider recording information about the motor carrier, driver, and vehicles used to pick up a shipment for investigative follow-up in case a shipment is stolen.  Logistics brokers should build sophisticated compliance programs to detect motor carrier identity theft, especially if a commodity has been frequently targeted.

Noteworthy thefts from previous Labor Day holidays

  • $1,088,983 in seafood stolen from Sioux City, Iowa
  • $800,000 in footwear stolen from Memphis, Tennessee
  • $713,000 in apparel and accessories stolen from Eastvale, California
  • $417,206 in computer electronics stolen from Ontario, California
  • $400,000 in vodka stolen from Jacksonville, Florida

 The Labor Day holiday analysis period consists of the Thursday before Labor Day to the Wednesday after Labor Day, 2018-2022. 

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