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2013 Cargo Thefts Tie Record High, Average Loss Falls

March 05, 2014

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The number of cargo thefts in the United States last year remained the same as it was in 2013, tying the highest level on record, according to a newly released report.

The logistics security services provider, FreightWatch International, says even though the number of incidents remained steady at 951, the threat of cargo theft continues to grow in the United States due to increased organization and innovation on the part of cargo thieves.

Of the total number of cargo thefts thefts, 72.66% were full-truckload or container thefts and 6.83% were less-than-truckload losses. Deceptive pickups, which increased steadily from 2006 through 2012, reaching a record level of 62 incidents in 2012, dropped slightly in 2013 to 61 or 6.41% of incidents. Facility burglaries saw 2.84% of incidents. Incidents involving violence remained a very low portion of cargo thefts, representing just 1.26% of the total.

The average loss value per theft incident peaked in 2009 at $554,105. Since then it has been on a steady decline. The average value per incident in 2013 was $171,146, down 2.4% from 2012 and a new all-time low since the start of FreightWatch data collection.

The significant decrease in average loss value from 2012 to 2013 is largely due to the lack of thefts with losses topping $1 million. 2013 saw only eight thefts over $1 million, while there were 13 in 2012, 21 in 2011 and 30 in 2010.

Likely spurred by the release of several next-generation video game consoles, the electronics product type saw the highest average loss value per incident in 2013, at $413,550. In a close contest for second place, alcohol/tobacco and the clothing/shoes categories came in at $269,000 and $286,427, respectively.

For the fourth consecutive year, food/drinks was the product type most often stolen in 2013, accounting for 27% of all cargo theft. Electronics rose from third to second place, logging 14% of thefts, while metals fell from second to tie with home/garden in third with 10% of all thefts each.

In 2013, 76% of all thefts with a known location occurred in unsecured parking areas. The most frequently targeted unsecured parking areas were truck stops with 33% of the total, public parking with 22% and roadsides at 7% of all thefts. Theft from secured parking fell from 17% of known locations in 2012 to 10% in 2013.

While cargo theft broadened in 2012, expanding to new highs in some states with normally low theft levels, 2013 saw cargo theft activity wane again in some of these states. At the same time, six of the top 10 states saw a decrease in the number of thefts over 2012. California, however, saw a sharp 13% increase in thefts from 2012 to 2013 to retain the top spot with 28.77% of total thefts. Texas, having increased by four theft incidents, claimed the number two spot in 2013 with 123 thefts or 13.66% of national thefts. Florida dropped from second place to third in 2013 with 113 incidents, a 13.08% decrease from 2012 totals. New Jersey continued its dramatic slide from 120 thefts in 2011 to 78 in 2012 and only 69 in 2013, a 42.5% drop over two years.

More details are available on the FreighWatch International website

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