The darkest areas show where cargo theft activity is the highest. Credit: FWI

The darkest areas show where cargo theft activity is the highest. Credit: FWI

While the number of incidents of cargo thefts in the U.S. declined in the first quarter of the year from the same time in 2014, the average value of each heist jumped 25%, according to the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International.

It recorded a total of 191 incidents, a 14% drop from a year earlier, however, the average loss value per incident was nearly $257,000.

“This is a continuation of the trend identified by the FWI in the third quarter of last year of a large rise in average loss value indicating that organized cargo thieves are targeting more lucrative shipments while many carriers continue to improve the security of their supply chain,” FreightWatch said in its report.

Compared to the final quarter of last year there was a 1% increase in total thefts and a 26% increase in the average loss value per incident.

Food and drinks continued to be the most stolen product type in the first quarter with 31% of total cargo thefts in the U.S. during this time.

The electronics category was the second most stolen product type with 14% of the total, primarily consisting of the perennial favorites such as televisions and displays, as well as items in the software, components and peripherals categories. Home and garden finished third with 12% of the total.

FreightWatch said in a surprise turn, New Jersey was the state with the most reported thefts in the first quarter of the year, despite typically being fifth through ninth in state rankings. It recorded 19% of the country’s total thefts, an increase of 386% and 84%, respectively, from the final quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of last year. Food and drinks accounted for 49% of thefts in New Jersey during this most recent quarter

Despite registering a theft rate lower than both comparative quarters, Florida was the second most active state in the first quarter.

“This is a result of the recent and persistent drop in theft volumes within the state of California,” said FreightWatch. “Likely a result of several factors, not the least of which is the continued West Coast port slowdown, [causing] the volume of freight in the state to drop. Additionally, due to the long delays experienced at the ports, the freight that is unloaded at the docks is less likely to be at rest for a significant amount of time before it is shipped to its final destination.”

Another interesting note is Arkansas making its first appearance in the top ten states by earning 78% of its average annual total in just the first quarter of the year.

The most prevalent location for large-scale cargo thefts continues to be unsecured parking, identified in 91% of reported incidents. Of these thefts, 21% occurred at truck stops. Thefts from warehouse or distribution location types came in second with 5% of thefts, while secured parking areas accounted for 4% of thefts this quarter.

Following previous trends, incidents involving theft of full truckload were most common during the first quarter, with 80% of all reported thefts. Pilferage, a theft type that is used by organized cargo thieves and street-level criminals alike, accounted for 12% of total thefts this quarter. This is a rise in the typical level of pilferage.