A full truckload of pharmaceuticals worth several million dollars was stolen last week at a rest area in Kentucky, illustrating a trend toward ever-higher values of stolen pharmaceutical shipments.

Don't haul pharmaceuticals? With the holiday season, many other types of loads are targets as well.

A report on the Securing Pharma website gives details on the pharmaceutical theft. The truck was left unattended at a Florence, Ky., rest area for about 15 minutes; the driver had to park far from the main facility. The thieves apparently got into the truck by breaking the lower window on the passenger side.

The story also shares comments by Barry Conlon, chief executive of FreightWatch International, at a recent healthcare products meeting. Conlon told attendees that extreme high value thefts are occurring more frequently, with the average value of pharmaceutical shipments sharply rising.

Year-to-date, FreightWatch has recorded 27 pharmaceutical theft incidents, with an average loss per shipment of $5.1 million, up from $4 million in 2009. This compares to 46 stolen pharmaceutical shipments in 2008, with an average loss value of $1.3 million.

On its website, FreightWatch notes that pharmaceutical products pose a particular problem when stolen because many make their way onto drug store shelves, increasing risk to consumers.

Holiday Targets

This time of year, cargo thieves are also targeting other types of high-value freight: Trucks full of expensive electronics and other gift items on their way to stores for the Christmas shopping season.

Mark Hofmann recently reported on the issue in Business Insurance magazine.

"When people think of Christmas, they think of toys," Scott A. Cornell, national manager-special investigations group in Travelers Cos. Inc.'s Rochester, N.Y., office, told the magazine. "When we see the first load of video games or something related to video games, the toys are on the road and here we go."

Driver error is a common reason, according to Capt. Tommy Bibb of the Marion County Sheriff's Office in Ocala, Fla., leaving loads unattended and unsecured. You might want to consider renting covert tracking devices for higher-risk loads.

You can read the article on FreightWatch International's website.