Already increasing cargo theft expected to soar this holiday period

Updated Nov 22, 2023
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The instances of cargo theft are expected to go from bad to worse this holiday week.

CargoNet is warning supply chain professionals the threat of cargo theft activity is extremely high this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. CargoNet has been tracking a sharp increase in theft reports since November 2022. Since then, the average number of theft reports filed per week has increased to an average of 51 events per week, a 64% increase when compared to historical data between January 2012 and October 2022.

The problem only appears to be escalating. Between Oct. 1, and Nov. 11, CargoNet said it has recorded an average of 66 reports per week, a 113% increase from the average number of reports per week between January 2012 and October 2022.

CargoNet in a statement said it believes the risk during this upcoming holiday is unlike any recent year. Strategic cargo theft groups over the past year have shown that they ramp up activity around major holidays because they understand logistics brokers will be under pressure and more likely to make mistakes. CargoNet is concerned recent spikes in theft of unattended, loaded conveyances, particularly in Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Southern California will continue into the holiday.

The Strategic Cargo Theft Threat

CargoNet said it has recorded 433 new theft events since October 2023, a 101% increase year-over-year.  Strategic cargo thefts or fictitious pickups and identity fraud reports made up 35% of reported crimes in this time period. Fifty-six percent of strategic cargo thefts took place in California. Strategic cargo thefts happened across the state but were most frequent in the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, motor oils, auto parts, apparel, solar energy generation items, and nutritional supplements were the most frequently stolen goods in strategic cargo thefts.

According to CargoNet, organized crime groups perpetrating these crimes seek to obtain a load tender by either: (1) outright impersonating a legitimate motor carrier, (2) using an authority they have registered or have been given access to, (3) deceiving a motor carrier into giving them the credentials to vital accounts.

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CargoNet said it is aware of a recent wave of strategic cargo thefts in which criminals represented themselves as an outsourced dispatch service. They were hired by multiple motor carriers and gained access to their emails, load board accounts, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration accounts to effectively "hijack" the authority and use it to get load tenders and steal truckload shipments. The criminals appeared to be legitimate representatives of the motor carriers to their victims because they were communicating via official accounts.

Logistics brokers should be on alert for these strategies this upcoming holiday. If a load tender is emailed to a potential cargo thief, it is imperative to change the pickup information with the shipper to prevent theft of the shipment, CargoNet warned.

Full Truckload Threat

Since October 2023, CargoNet has noted an increase in theft of unattended, loaded conveyances across the U.S. Unattended freight is at high risk this holiday because of the likelihood it will be left unattended and unmonitored for several days before a driver returns to complete delivery. Truckload theft rings have focused on shipments of major appliances, small appliances, non-alcoholic beverages, ATVs, and construction equipment.

Thefts have been especially common in:

  • Dallas-Fort Worth, particularly along South Freeway at the I-20 and I-35W intersections in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Atlanta Metro Area particularly around Tucker and Stone Mountain and South Fulton, Fairburn, and Palmetto
  • Florida in major freight hubs like Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami
  • Southern California, especially in San Bernardino County and Riverside County

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