Total cargo thefts in Mexico rose 13% for the year, according to the FreightWatch International 2011 Mexico Cargo Theft Report.
Above, a map of Mexico cargo theft incidents in 2011.
Above, a map of Mexico cargo theft incidents in 2011.

While that number might seem high, it's actually a slowdown from recent years, possibly a result of an increasing number of companies adopting security measures and increasing investments in security technology.

From 2006 to 2010, Mexico cargo theft has increased 20% to 40% per year. This has created challenges for companies operating in Mexico and made cargo theft one of the most serious threats to the supply chain industry in Mexico, according to FreightWatch. More than 10,000 hijackings occur each year with losses estimated at $9 billion USD.

Theft Location

The top areas for cargo theft incidents in 2011 were the State of Mexico, the Federal District, and the states of Jalisco, Puebla, Veracruz and Nuevo Leon. The Federal District and the State of Mexico together experienced a 9% decrease in cargo theft activity, while Jalisco saw an 11% decrease. Theft rates increased in all the other statewide hot spots for cargo crime: Puebla's rose 118%, Veracruz's jumped by 38%, and the rate in Nuevo Leon increased by 27%.

The four highway routes that reported the highest number of incidents in 2011 were Mexico-Queretaro, Mexico-Puebla, Guadalajara-Colima and Puebla-Orizaba.


Food and drink products were most targeted by cargo thieves for the second year in a row, claiming 24% of all 2011 theft incidents. Building and industrial products accounted for 22% of thefts. The products most stolen in 2011 were sugar, meat, milk, grains, steel, copper, cell phones, televisions and electrodomestics (mainly refrigerators and air conditioners).

Overall, the average loss value per theft incident increased by 23% during the reporting period, from $154,000 in 2010 to $189,510 in 2011.

Major Trends

FreightWatch reported four other major trends for Mexico cargo theft in 2011:

Rail theft increased by 120%.
One of the most notable trends for 2011 was the sharp increase in rail thefts over 2010. Containers carrying metals, textiles, grains and electronics were the most targeted in 2011.

-Theft of scrap metal on the rise.
Mostly moved by rail in Mexico, scrap metal is increasing being targeted by cargo thieves. Annual losses from this type of theft are now estimated at $50 million USD.

-Natural gas condensate becomes a main target.
Mexico's state‐owned petroleum company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) estimates losses resulting from stolen natural gas condensate total $300 million USD from 2006 through 2011.

-Thieves targeting trucks on clients' behalf.
According to Mexico's National Chamber of Freight and Auto Transport, cargo theft gangs are increasingly targeting loads at the request of clients. These "clients" often include the original, legitimate purchaser of the goods, who makes a deal with the thieves to buy the stolen load at a price lower than he would have paid the company that sold the goods.