Wave of cargo thefts grows; up 46% over first quarter of 2023

Updated May 16, 2024
Cargo theft graphic

The surge of cargo thefts -- often by elaborate fraud and identity theft schemes -- plaguing the trucking industry continues to mount. 

In the first quarter of 2024, criminal activities impacting the logistics and transportation industry reached new highs, even amidst the sustained crime wave that began in late 2022. Verisk CargoNet in a statement today said it documented 925 incidents, marking a substantial 46% increase compared to the first quarter of 2023 and a 10% rise from the fourth quarter of 2023.

The average stolen shipment value in the first quarter of 2024 was $281,757, while the declared total value was $76 million, according to CargoNet. By extrapolating the average shipment value across events without a declared value, CargoNet estimates a total of $154.6 million worth of goods were stolen during this period.

While reported events increased in most states, the most significant spikes were observed in California (with a +72% year-over-year increase), Illinois (with a +126% year-over-year increase), and Texas (with a +22% year-over-year increase).

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Certain commodities, such as small appliances, liquor, energy drinks, and copper, were heavily targeted. CargoNet said thieves demonstrated a propensity to steal a wide array of goods, posing a significant threat to industries nationwide.

CargoNet in a statement said much of the threat came in the form of complex fraud schemes, where entire truckloads were picked up and never delivered or delivered with digitally altered paperwork to hide the theft from the customer.

However, simple cargo theft, including the whole theft of unattended, loaded trailers and pilferage of unattended, loaded trailers, remained a persistent issue. Notable hotspots for such thefts included Southern California, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, as well as the corridor spanning New York, North Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Looking ahead to the second quarter and beyond, CargoNet said it anticipates high levels of non-delivery thefts and strategic shortages will persist. The threat landscape remains dynamic, necessitating continuous vigilance and proactive security measures from stakeholders across the supply chain.