House committee approves $2 million for new federal cargo theft task force

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A major trucking advocacy organization is praising recent congressional action to address the growing problem of cargo theft.

The American Trucking Associations applauded the House Appropriations Committee’s report language for the fiscal year 2025 Department of Homeland Security funding bill, which included a provision directing Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to establish a Supply Chain Fraud and Theft Task Force, as well as $2 million to fund the initiative. The report language was championed by Rep. David Valadao (R-California) and will counter the sharp rise in cargo theft and broader supply chain fraud, addressing one of ATA’s strategic priorities. 

“The trucking industry takes great pride in delivering America’s freight safely and on time. The billions of tons of goods transported by trucks to every American community have increasingly become a prime target for organized crime, putting truck drivers at risk and raising costs for consumers,” said ATA Senior Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Henry Hanscom. “ATA commends the House Appropriations Committee and Congressman Valadao for directing Homeland Security Investigations to leverage its unique cross-border authorities to address this alarming trend. This provision will strengthen the partnership between the government, law enforcement, motor carriers, and our supply chain partners to strike an effective blow against these organized theft groups.” 

The appropriations report language allocates $2 million for Homeland Security Investigations, a subset of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to consult with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies as well as relevant private sector stakeholders to ensure the task force “employs a coordinated, multi-agency, intelligence-based, and prosecutor-led approach to identifying, disrupting, and dismantling organizations primarily responsible for the theft and theft-related violence in the American supply chain.”  

“When I served in the Colorado State Patrol, cases of cargo theft were far less prevalent than they are today. Unfortunately, in recent years, organized theft groups have been systematically targeting our nation’s supply chains and using increasingly sophisticated techniques to steal cargo in transit,” said Mark Savage, chairman of the ATA's Law Enforcement Advisory Board (LEAB) and director of connected truck solutions at Drivewyze. “LEAB is already working with the trucking industry as well as with the Cargo Theft Task Force in Florida and the California Highway Patrol to help raise awareness and connect local officers with federal resources.  We support this appropriations provision that will strengthen law enforcement’s ability to crack down on criminals and protect drivers and motor carriers from future thefts.” 

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According to CargoNet, cargo theft spiked by 57% in 2023 compared to the prior year.  Thefts have continued at a torrid pace this year, increasing another 10% in the first three months of 2024.  In the first quarter of this year, there were 925 documented incidents of cargo theft with an average loss of $281,757 per stolen shipment. California, Texas, and Illinois had the highest incidents of cargo theft, accounting for 61% of all cases.  Motor carriers are not required to report these robberies, so actual cases are likely much higher. 

Cargo theft not only disrupts the supply chain for American consumers, but it also endangers the lives of truck drivers and law enforcement.  In light of this troubling trajectory, ATA added security — including cargo theft and cyber threats — to its list of strategic priorities earlier this year.