Cargo theft up 59% in third quarter; every category of theft increased

Updated Nov 14, 2023
Charts showing cargo theft information

Cargo thefts during the third quarter of this year increased significantly over the same period of time in 2022, and there's no indication it will slow down any time soon.

CargoNet, a theft monitoring organization, recorded 692 thefts across the United States and Canada in the third quarter of 2023, a 59% increase when compared to the third quarter of 2022. In total, thieves stole over $31.1 million in shipments in the third quarter of 2023, according to a statement from CargoNet.

Like the second quarter of 2023, much of the increase is due to ongoing shipment misdirection attacks, a kind of strategic cargo theft in which crooks use stolen motor carrier and logistics broker identities to obtain freight and misdirect it from the intended receiver so they could steal it. 

In the third quarter of 2023, reported thefts increased in every category. Documented strategic cargo theft events increased 430% year-over-year and theft of a loaded conveyance such as a full trailer increased 4% year-over-year. These kinds of thefts were most common in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois.

CargoNet said it also recorded a significant increase in the "other" category, which combines several categories of reports like identity theft complaints, hostage loads, late shipment complaints, and other kinds of criminal intelligence records.

RELATED NEWS: $44 million worth of cargo theft occurred in second quarter of 2023

CargoNet said, "As we enter the final quarter of 2023, there is no indication that cargo theft activity will slow in the United States. We anticipate that strategic cargo theft will remain at unprecedented levels of activity throughout the quarter. We caution the industry that throughout this year, strategic cargo theft rings have picked up activity around holiday periods."

Additionally, CargoNet said strategic cargo theft groups have widened their preferred commodity targets to include truckload shipments of metal like copper, brass, and aluminum. Apparel -- especially officially licensed sports apparel -- and shipments of personal care and beauty products also were targeted.

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The theft monitoring organization also cautions that strategic cargo theft groups continue to pioneer new methods of strategic cargo theft that seek to evade common compliance practices used by logistics brokers. Strategic cargo theft groups have shown keen interest in perpetrating fraud against small motor carriers or owner-operators with the intent of hijacking their accounts or convincing them to solicit shipments from logistics brokers on their behalf. Both strategies seek to evade identity theft checks a logistics broker may do prior to tendering a shipment.