Cargo theft incident frequency. Graphic: CargoNet

Cargo theft incident frequency. Graphic: CargoNet

Two new reports paint slightly different pictures of cargo theft, but there is no doubt the problem continues, especially in certain parts of the country and for specific types of freight.

The logistics security services provider FreightWatch International recorded a total of 193 cargo thefts in the United States in the third quarter, saying the average loss value per incident totaled $120,536. This represents a 14% increase in volume compared with the second quarter of the year, but the average value fell by 26%.

Compared to the third quarter of 2015 this is a 7% increase in volume and a 38% drop in value. The amount of thefts valued at over $1 million totaled five in the most recent quarter versus two during the second quarter of this year and two in the third quarter of 2015.

Meanwhile, cargo theft and recovery services provider CargoNet says it received reports of 447 theft incidents in the third quarter, a 2% increase from third quarter 2015.

Of this number, 309 involved theft of a motor vehicle, 201 incidents involved theft of cargo, and 35 incidents involved fraud. Thefts of intermodal chassis and containers dropped from third-quarter 2015, but thefts of tractors and trailers increased 31% and 24%, respectively.

In total, CargoNet recorded $23.7 million in cargo stolen in the third quarter, down $8.2 million from year-ago numbers. The average cargo theft was worth $118,000, down from $144,000 in third-quarter 2015.

There were six incidents during the quarter valued at $1 million or more, with an average value of $1.58 million. This is one more incident than third-quarter 2015, but during this time, the average loss for incidents greater than $1 million was $3.34 million due to two extremely high-value thefts of $7 million and $5.7 million. This also explains the loss value difference between third-quarter 2015 and third-quarter 2016, according to Cargo Net.

Reported cargo theft incidents in the United States and Canada dropped 9% in the quarter compared with third-quarter 2015.

Hot spots, hot cargo

CargoNet said theft in most states decreased, but it recorded a 40% increase year over year in reported cargo thefts in California.

“Contrary to recent reports that theft in Los Angeles has increased, our data shows that cargo theft in Los Angeles County has decreased 13% year over year, but theft in San Bernardino County has increased 229% year over year,” the CargoNet report said. “Most theft in San Bernardino is occurring in Ontario and Fontana. Texas was the next highest state but trailed California’s 59 thefts by 31.”

California was also at the top of the FreightWatch report, which showed it ranked as the top state for cargo theft with 38% of total thefts, an increase of 11% from the second quarter of the year and an increase of 95% from the third quarter of 2015. Texas has 16% of the total, coming in second while Florida was third.

Electronics were the costliest commodity loss, according to CargoNet, but dropped from $14.5 million in third-quarter 2015 to $7.8 million this quarter. Theft of household items was the second costliest loss, at $4.6 million. Household items also increased 138% year over year. Food and beverage commodities remained the most stolen commodity but fell 22% year over year.

FreightWatch also reported electronics was the most stolen type of commodity, along home and garden items, each accounting for 18% of total cargo thefts.

Incidents involving theft of full truckload continued as the most prevalent method of theft during the third quarter of this year, with 78% of all reported thefts, recording an average loss value of $120,298, according to FreightWatch. Facility thefts saw a 98% increase in theft rate and a 266% increase in theft value, accounting for 5% of total thefts, and recorded an average value of $347,755 during the quarter. Pilferage accounted for 14% of total thefts, a jump of 25% from the second quarter of the year.

CargoNet reported warehouse locations remained the most common location for cargo theft, but theft at secured yards increased 100% year over year and was the second most common location. The company said it examined this data more closely and found secured yard thefts increased the most in Californiam, specifically, five cargo thefts from secured yards in the city of Ontario. Secured yard thefts also increased in Texas, Florida, and Illinois. Unsecured yards came in third and increased 134% year over year.

Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Business Contributing Editor

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