A truck driver pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday for his role in a cargo theft ring that included a theft in West Plains, Mo.
Michael Lee Sherley, of Memphis, pleaded guilty in federal court in Springfield, Mo. to theft of an interstate shipment. He was employed by Nu World Trucking, a Memphis trucking company, from July 2012 until his arrest on May 12, 2013.
Sherley was part of a cargo theft ring that used the resources of Nu World Trucking to steal cargo in various states. They did so by “bob-tailing” through truck stops and service stations located on or near interstate highways, looking for semi-trailers that had been left parked and unattended, and were not coupled to road tractors, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.
When they located a semi-trailer that appeared to be unattended, they would steal it and the goods it contained by coupling their tractor to it and driving off. After having stolen a semi-trailer and its contents, they usually transported the stolen goods to the Chicago and Detroit areas to be “fenced” or sold.
The specific charge to which Sherley pleaded guilty to involves a theft that occurred on May 11, 2013, at the Snappy Mart Truck Stop in West Plains. Sherley and another person stole a 2000 Wabash trailer, valued at $7,500, which contained a load of Green Giant canned corn, valued at $73,008.
The trailer, owned by Bryant Freight, LLC, was in transit from Minnesota to a food bank in Arkansas. Sherley admitted that they traveled through Missouri and Indiana with the stolen cargo before being apprehended in Michigan.
Under federal statutes, Sherley is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing is set for later.
Thefts of food/drinks were the most frequently targeted cargo type by thieves last year, according to the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International, with the number of such incidents increasing more than 34% from the year before. Also, truckstops were the most frequently targeted unsecured parking areas by cargo thieves in the country last year.