The darkest areas on this map show where truck cargo thefts happened the most in the thrid quarter of the year. Credit: FreightWatch International

The darkest areas on this map show where truck cargo thefts happened the most in the thrid quarter of the year. Credit: FreightWatch International

The number of truck cargo thefts in the U.S. fell in the second quarter of the year, but the average loss per heist doubled during the same time, according to a new report from FreightWatch International.

The logistics security services provider recorded a total of 208 incidents.

The average loss value per incident during the quarter was $321,521 a 104% increase from the third quarter of 2013 and 82% higher than the previous quarter, while the number of thefts declined by 20%.

“The average loss-value ceiling continues to rise and illustrates that organized cargo thieves continue to aggressively target high value freight,” FreightWatch said in its report.

Once again, the product type most often stolen was food/drinks with 18% of all incidents in the U.S. during the quarter. The electronics product type was the second most stolen category, accounting for 17% of all thefts. The home/garden sector experienced the third most thefts with 15% while nearly half of its thefts were in the appliances sub-category.

The average losses in specific product types varied widely. The product type of pharmaceuticals/medication had the highest average loss value in the second quarter at $2 million, due to one substantial theft. The electronics product type experienced a 279% increase in average loss value from the 2013 third quarter, coming in second place at just under $1.1 million, due in part to four separate thefts valued at over $1 million each. Pharmaceuticals/supplies registered as the third highest average value at $453,625, also due to a single theft. Alcohol/tobacco and personal care also logged higher than typical theft values, with $421,407 and $412,000, respectively, as did metals with a value of $102,785.

After a brief second place stint during second quarter of this year, California once again claimed the top spot among U.S. states with the most cargo thefts, 21.4% of the total, a 36% increase over its second quarter volume but a 46% drop from the same quarter last year. Florida dropped back down to second place with 17% of thefts ,a 28% decrease from the previous quarter but a 10% increase from the same quarter last year.

Texas remained steady at third place, logging 13% of thefts. Seeing a surge in volume counter to the national decline, New Jersey saw increased criminal activity and logged a total of 33 thefts for 13% of the total, an 82% increase over the second quarter and an 11% gain from the third quarter of 2013.

“Interestingly, Washington has made its first appearance on the list of top states, with four reported thefts with 2% of the total. This seems to be the first indication that the cargo theft ring that was reported to have relocated out of California is actively targeting freight in the Pacific Northwest,” said FreightWatch.

Together, the top four states accounted for 62% of national cargo thefts.

A major factor in cargo theft risk is locations where freight is left unattended, according to FreightWatch. Of the incidents in which a location was recorded, unsecured parking accounted for the greatest number of incidents with a total of 132 thefts, nearly a quarter of which took place at truck stops.

Following previous trends, incidents involving thefts of the trailer or container were most common during the third quarter representing 85% of all thefts. In a tie for second, both deceptive pickup and facility burglary each had nine thefts, each dropping slightly from the second quarter of the year.

“There were many more reports of carriers with compromised identity, indicating that deceptive pickup remains a viable and growing threat,” according to the report. FreightWatch International said despite the increased reports it only records confirmed theft instances.

The full report is available on the FreightWatch International website at