5 Cargo Theft Trends to Be Aware of When Shipping

5 Cargo Theft Trends to Be Aware of When Shipping

According to the FBI, cargo theft encompasses a vast range of potential crimes, from stealing commercial freight shipments, tanks or bulk containers, to robbing storage or distribution facilities, station houses, platforms, or depots to hijacking trailers or other transport vehicles.

As such, cargo theft has always been a problem for suppliers of goods, but not always in the same ways. The types of targets, tactics and products involved in cargo thefts have shifted over time. Being aware of the most current cargo theft trends can help your company protect its goods and keep its supply chain going uninterrupted.

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1. Rise in Temporary Storage and Delivery Targets

There is currently a shift in target locations over the few last years. Compared with the same time in 2020, cargo theft from U.S. storage facilities jumped from 20% to 45% of all cargo thefts. This comprises thefts from “on-the-move” targets, such as trucks making deliveries to thefts from storage facilities, depots and warehouses holding trailers and containers like pallet containers awaiting collection.

2. Shift in Temporary Storage and Delivery Locations

While the proportion of cargo thefts from temporary storage and delivery locations combined increased overall year over year, the breakdown of those locations have shifted. Instead of hitting as many vehicles, such as those carrying 55-gallon drums, cargo thieves have shifted to fixed storage facilities. Many of these are temporary spots located in port areas lacking sufficient security.

In fact, thefts from facilities saw the biggest increase in cargo theft types over the analyzed period, rising to 25% versus 7%. A major factor in this rise is supply chain congestion, especially in and around ports. Coinciding with the increase in cargo theft from unsecured storage sites, hijacking and robbery of vehicles dropped to 25% from 67% at this same time last year. 

3. Trends in Types of Cargo Stolen

The most commonly stolen cargo is food and beverage items. Food and beverage products are making particularly appealing targets for cargo thieves for a couple of key reasons. They lack unique serial numbers and are, therefore, more difficult to trace. In addition, there’s no lasting evidence of the crime because the stolen items are perishable. 

According to the latest cargo theft trends, the second most commonly stolen cargo is electronics. Home and garden supplies and building and industrial supplies are also popular items with cargo thieves.

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4. New Cargo Theft Methods and Tactics

New and improved technologies have given cargo thieves more sophisticated methods of conducting their crimes. New cargo theft tactics include:

  • Fabricating documents
  • Engaging in double-brokering schemes
  • Setting up fake trucking companies
  • Dividing stolen loads into smaller groups for storage in different locations as opposed to single warehouses

5. Times of Cargo Theft

Cargo thieves are finding weekends, and particularly extended holiday weekends, the prime days to commit their crimes. This is because they realize facilities go unattended these days, commonly delaying reporting times and response times. This, in turn, gives cargo thieves more time and leeway to successfully execute their crimes, whether that’s to transfer the cargo to a different trailer, hide it in a different location, or sell it to a third party – all before the shipper or law enforcement becomes aware of the missing cargo. The most common months for cargo thefts are July, November, and December.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, cargo theft is a $15 to $35 billion industry in America. By understanding the latest trends in cargo theft, you can maximize your security in those areas and, in so doing, protect your precious goods from being stolen and secure your business’s reputation and bottom line.

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Keeping a closer eye on temporary storage and delivery facilities is crucial because of these new cargo theft trends. To ensure you are storing cargo in secure containers, use items like drum barrels, 55-gallon drums, bulk containers and more. Thieves are always changing up their tactics, so your company should be taking action to stay up to date on the newest theft trends.