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New Warning About Seasonal Cargo Theft Risks

Posted: August 17, 2015

AUSTIN, TX — As the North American supply chain prepares to enter its busiest season, organized cargo criminals are gearing up to maximize opportunities to seize high-value shipments that will saturate the target-rich environment encompassing the remaining months of the year.

That’s according to the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International in a new bulletin. 

According to its data, in 2014, theft activity concentrated during the seasonal peak period of September through December with a cumulative 245 incidents. the greatest number, almost one third of the report period’s total, occurred in October as the surge of products flooded the demand to support Black Friday, the day after U.S. Thanksgiving.

Two coveted commodities targeted every year at this time, electronics, along with clothing and apparel, comprised 23 percent of the reported thefts yielding average loss values of approximately US$1.4 million and US$328,000, respectively. 

Additionally, theft of full truckload constituted 89 percent of cargo theft in the United States with a majority of reported cases occurring at unsecured parking areas. 

Many heists also included driver theft incidents involving either direct theft by the driver, the driver’s voluntary collusion or complicity in the crime, or a deceptive criminal posing as a legitimate carrier resource.

This method of operation has evolved to often include drivers orchestrating mechanical failures, documentation of repair services, and the subsequent use of a viable alibi upon the arrival of law enforcement, according to FreightWatch. It cautions this growing trend – surreptitious driver – warrants acute awareness as the shipping industry enters its peak season.

It cited figures from the American Transportation Association (ATA) showing driver turnover rate for large truckload companies reached 96% percent at the end of 2014. “As the population of drivers in the United States continues to age – experiencing more drivers retiring than entering the force – this trend will continue to serve as a huge disadvantage and security risk to an organization’s supply chain,” FreightWatch said.

In the meantime, it said fictitious pickups continue to be a growing threat in the industry. The frequency of such incidents increased sharply from 2011 to 2012, and have remained on a relatively constant increase ever since. 

During the 2014 pre-holiday peak, 13 cases of fictitious pickups were reported in the U.S. totaling over US$2.2 million in lost cargo. Electronics, along with clothing and shoes, were targeted in 38 percent of these crimes. These low-risk, high-reward incidents continue to be relatively easy for the criminal to organize, while becoming increasingly problematic for enterprises to endure, according to FreightWatch.

“The peak shipping season of September to December recurrently infuses risk, chiefly brought about by the supply and demand imparted on transportation operations,” said FreightWatch. “Limitations on available carriers often necessitates brokering, as well as re-brokering to the second, third, and sometimes fourth order.”

It said logisticians professionals, transporters, and security professionals can combat this threat by taking a proactive approach to cargo security, noting awareness of the threat is integral and exercising proper due diligence when sourcing carriers is essential, while ensuring that all participants in the supply chain comply with industry best practices is of overriding importance.

“The organized criminal dedicates an inordinate amount of time to surveillance, preparation, and rehearsals. We must dedicate ample resources to proactively combat this growing threat,” said FreightWatch.

 

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