A new report says when it comes to cargo thefts in the U.S., one category is seeing more interest by thieves – and it’s anything but high-tech.

It turns out food and drink is the most stolen type of freight since 2008, according to the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International.

It found this product type is also experiencing a similar trend to what’s being seen in the pharmaceutical category, in that its overall volume of thefts is dropping, but the average loss value is steadily climbing, based on FreightWatch data from the third quarter of 2013 through the second quarter of this year.

According to the report, while this trend in pharmaceuticals is largely due to the decrease in readily obtainable, low security loads as the industry has hardened its supply chain, this trend in food and drinks is largely due to the rise in theft rates of other, more valuable products.

“Simply put, as the availability of low-security and high-value loads diminishes, organized cargo criminals must broaden their efforts, targeting a wider variety of low-risk, high-reward shipments,” the report said. “Additionally, seasonal trends becomes apparent, with volumes rising in fourth quarter to peak in the first quarter, then decreasing again in the summer months, potentially due to increased risk of spoilage of perishable products.”

FreightWatch says when subcategories in the food and drink category are examined, several facts become apparent.

"Criminals will continue to weigh the pros of easy obtainability and liquidation against the cons of perishability and medium-value density."

The most popular subtype is sodas, juice, tea and water, with 16% of the total food and drink heists. Seafood and nuts, however, only accounted for 8% and 6% of the total, respectively, but recorded the two highest average loss values at $178,488 and $160,491 each.

Meats, another cost-dense food, is a subtype that lies at the intersection of the high value and frequently stolen categories. With 12% of the total, it is the third most stolen subtype after canned and dry goods, and has the fourth highest average loss value at $78,397.

When food and drinks thefts valued over $250,000 are looked at closely, some interesting details also emerge, according to FreightWatch. Seafood accounts for 50% of thefts over $250,000, with nuts accounting for another 25%.

Additionally, all food and drink thefts over $250,000 were perpetrated in one of three states: California, with a 50% share; Florida second with 38% of such thefts, while New Jersey had 12% of these thefts for third place.

According to FreightWatch, although the value of reported food and drinks cargo theft incidents is relatively low, ranking eighth out of 12 in the second quarter of the year, it is on the rise.

“This product type is showing that trends seen in other high-value areas is not isolated to electronics or pharmaceuticals, but in fact organized cargo criminals are actively and aggressively targeting food and drinks and will continue to do so,” the report said. “With no unique serialization to hinder the reselling of these products, criminals will continue to weigh the pros of easy obtainability and liquidation against the cons of perishability and medium-value density as they determine where to focus their efforts.”

The bottom line, food and drinks will continue to rise in value as thieves attempt to regain what is lost in volume with value.


About the author
Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Former Business Contributing Editor

Trucking journalist since 1990, in the news business since early ‘80s.

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