Safety & Compliance

Cargo Theft Hits New Highs in 2010

January 18, 2011

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Cargo theft rose by 4.1 percent in 2010, to 899 cargo theft incidents (an average of 75 per month) the most ever recorded, according to FreightWatch International, Austin, Texas.

The food and beverage industry was the most heavily hit by cargo theft, accounting for 21 percent of total theft activity, with an average loss value of $125,000 per incident. It was closely followed by the electronics sector, accounting for 19 percent of all cargo theft and an average loss per incident of $512,000.

In the food and drinks product category, the goods most commonly stolen were raw products
such as rice, sugar, tea and coffee (40). Also popular among thieves were meats (33) and
canned/bottled drinks (31).

In the electronics product category, FreightWatch recorded 42 cases of television theft (the most
of any single product), 33 computer/laptop hardware thefts and 15 cell‐phone theft incidents.

The average loss value per incident in 2010 was recorded at $471,200. This is a decrease of 17%
from 2009, when the average loss value per incident was recorded at $572,800. Pharmaceuticals once again measured as the highest per‐incident value, averaging $3.78 million,
with tobacco second at $1.26 million and electronics third at $512,000.

Of the 899 incidents, 724 (81%) were full truckload or container thefts and 31 were warehouse burglaries (3.4%). Violence was involved in 1.3% of the incidents (10 hijackings and two
warehouse robberies).

While California, Florida and Texas all saw slight decreases in the number of cargo theft incidents
recorded in 2010, New Jersey smashed the charts with a 142% increase, recording 121 cargo
theft incidents in 2010, compared with 50 in 2009.

Freightwatch identified multiple-trailer thefts as an important trend In 2010. FreightWatch recorded 46 theft incidents in which cargo criminals stole multiple trailers in the same incident. "While not an entirely new M.O., the rate of occurrence far surpasses any previous year, demonstrating that criminals are aiming to increase their take‐per‐theft ratio," the report notes. "This M.O. increases the profitability of their efforts while keeping their risk of exposure (from multiple theft incidents) low."

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