Cargo theft rose about 17 percent in the third quarter from the second quarter, with a 30 percent rise from the year-ago period
, according to a new North American Cargo Theft report by Chubb Marine Underwriters. The report points out that the problem may be a continued effect of the economic downturn.

"This is a problem that is recession-proof; in fact it is more likely to thrive during hard times much in line with the overall property crime figures," the report said. "While the rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average seems to have gained some traction and the investment community can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the stock market tends to be forward looking and until the unemployment rate and related financial health indicators that directly affect the rank-and-file turn around, cargo theft will continue at historically high levels."

The third quarter saw 184 cargo theft incidents. The company provided data on the monetary extent of the loss in 87 thefts, or about 47 percent of the recorded incidents. The value of the stolen goods came out to be nearly $39 million, a drop from the second quarter's $77 million.

The largest number of thefts involved food products, including non-alcoholic beverages, at 36 losses. This was followed by apparel at 18 losses, and televisions, which got its own category this quarter, at 15 losses.

California topped the list with the highest number of incidents at 45, followed by Florida at 37 and Texas at 18 incidents.

The most common area for cargo theft during the third quarter was from carrier facilities, which includes trucking companies, warehouses, distribution centers or 3PLs. These facilities saw 34 incidents of cargo theft.

"We would note that while thieves reportedly gained entry into these properties by cutting through fences or locked gates and were at times caught on surveillance cameras, some may not consider them truly secure," the report said. "A properly protected terminal would be hardened against these types of attacks and have a viable detection system along with a response plan."

Truckstops and rest stops came in second with 27 occurrences of cargo theft in the quarter.