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Cargo Theft Reporting Program Goes National

Peel Regional Police Superintendent Bob Devolin speaking about the extended cargo theft reporting program at a media event on March 18.

TORONTO, ON — As much as five billion worth of goods fall off the back of a truck annually and law enforcement is working with groups the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) on a nationwide initiative to put an end to cargo theft.

IBC and CTA are expanding the current cargo theft reporting pilot program from Quebec and Ontario to the rest of Canada.

Southern Ontario, Vancouver and Montreal are hardest hit by cargo theft. Some of the biggest challenges police face in property recovery are that the thefts are not always reported right away and trying to identify the goods once they are found.

“By working together we’re going to be a lot more effective,” said Garry Robertson, national director of the IBC’s Investigative Services unit.

Robertson added that they’re also talking with other stakeholders such as manufacturers and retailers.

The online reporting system will act as a centralized database of cargo theft incident reports through the IBC’s online forms, and will reveal patterns of theft throughout Canada.

Not only that, CTA’s CEO David Bradley said, but this tool will allow carriers to report thefts anonymously.

“Historically, carriers have been reluctant to report incidences of cargo theft for fear of public scrutiny, damages to corporate image or increased insurance premiums.”

The CTA has a similar initiative with CargoNet, a private-sector warehouse of information managed by crime analysts and other experts trained to prevent cargo theft. CargoNet shares information about known cargo theft incidents or suspicious activity with its members. It has about 150 members in the United States and over 20 Canadian members so far.

On the rise

The number of cargo theft incidents is rising, but not only that but the value of stolen cargo is also going up, according to data.

The folks at CargoNet say the value of cargo stolen by deceptive pickup was $203,744 per incident as opposed to $174,380 per incident for overall in 2012. That’s 17-percent higher.

Det. Robert Bennett is a Cargo Inspector with York Regional Police. “I’m looking,” he told Today’s Trucking, “at a valuable load that was taken, and it was definitely insider knowledge because the surveillance video shows the suspect tractor coming in, hooking up and taking the trailer away within four minutes; and there’s another 15 trailers there. They knew exactly which one to hook up to.”

Bradley agrees that cargo theft is often not opportunistic, but organized crime.

“I think that more than anything is that if we can start getting more recoveries and start making more arrests then I think people will start seeing results,” Bradley said.

The challenge for law enforcement is that right now, Canadian law does not recognize cargo theft as different from general property theft and penalties don’t seem to match the seriousness of the offence.

“This has always been considered a low-risk, high-reward crime,” Robertson said.

That’s because repeat offenders rarely get any jail time and because before this national reporting initiative, there was no mechanism for sharing information between local, regional and national law enforcement.

“There are reasons why we have not had great reporting over the years. One I think there was a view amongst some people in the industry that the police was not taking it seriously but I think we’ve come a long way over the last couple of years in that regard,” Bradley said.

“Society can no longer view cargo theft as victimless,” he added. “It’s exacting a huge toll, running into billions of dollars, on the Canadian economy and threatens the security of all Canadians.”

Peel Regional Police Superintendent Bob Devolin commented: “It’s not just a problem for trucking companies and manufacturers, it affects consumers and puts a strain on law enforcement.”

“Cargo theft is a sophisticated and organized enterprise and we take this crime very seriously,” Devolin added.

Bradley commented: “This is an essential tool for recovery of stolen freight and equipment, apprehending criminals, developing and implementing appropriate countermeasures and quantifying the problem.”

There’s growing momentum, and that’s a good thing, Bradley said because to fight cargo theft, the initiative needs to be as organized as the criminals.

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cargo theft trucking Canadian Trucking Alliance insurance