September 26, 2023

Cargo thefts from trucks, warehouses spike during Q2


Truckload carriers across the U.S. saw a sharp rise in cargo thefts during the second quarter — with thieves targeting everything from electronic goods to food and beverage products and construction materials.

Verisk Analytics’ firm CargoNet, which tracks voluntarily reported cargo thefts, said there were 566 incidents in the U.S. and 16 in Canada in the second quarter, a 57% year-over-year (y/y) increase compared to 2022. 

“In total, thieves stole over $44 million in goods in the second quarter of 2023 and the average shipment value per event increased nearly $100,000 to $260,703 per theft as cargo thieves focused on high-value shipments,” CargoNet said in a news release.

Cargo thefts were most common in California, Texas, Florida and Illinois, CargoNet said.

In comparison, visibility and risk management platform Overhaul’s data showed 123 cargo thefts were reported during the quarter, a y/y increase of 15% compared to the same period in 2022. 

Overhaul data showed more incidents of cargo theft near freight hubs and large cities, leading to hot spots in states such as California and Georgia, which ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of cargo theft risk, according to Overhaul.

The average loss value per incident reported to Overhaul during the second quarter was $428,409, 55% higher compared to the first quarter of the year.

Overhaul and CargoNet officials said while they both gather and report cargo theft data, each firm collects information from various sources and focuses on different parts of the supply chain. They also have a different number of clients/users who self-report incidents.

“While Overhaul does not get their data from us and has no affiliation to Verisk/CargoNet, there are instances where if we have mutual clients that a theft could be represented in both numbers,” Keith Lewis, CargoNet’s vice president of operations, told FreightWaves. “I can’t be certain about it but if I had to give a reason for the large discrepancy, it is most likely just because of the areas that each company focuses on.”

Warehouses/distribution centers, unsecured lots top targets

The majority of cargo thefts in the second quarter of 2023 occurred near warehouses and distribution centers, along with unsecured parking lots and company truck yards and premises, according to both Overhaul and CargoNet.

Danny Ramon, an intelligence and response manager at Overhaul, said when trucks park in places that are publicly accessible, those places are designated as unsecured parking lots.

“There’s no standard industry definition of what an unsecured lot is. A truck could be parked at a Target or Walmart parking lot, a truck stop, rest area on a highway, restaurants — those types of places are what we consider unsecured parking,” Ramon said.

Unsecured parking lots were the most prevalent location for large-scale cargo
thefts during the second quarter, according to Overhaul. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Cargo thieves are also focusing on stealing full truckloads, as well as pilferage, which involves stealing smaller amounts of cargo and individual items from trucks.

CargoNet data shows theft of full truckloads increased 17% y/y, most often in California, Texas, Florida and Illinois. 

“We also note that regional activity around New York City and Philadelphia was significant,” CargoNet said. “Burglary of a loaded conveyance … still remains a significant threat to shipments, especially high-value shipments that are traveling on the Interstate 40 corridor through Arizona, California and New Mexico.”

Fictitious pickups by cargo thieves also showed a significant increase in the second quarter.

“We recorded 127 more fictitious pickups y/y in the quarter,” CargoNet said. “Fictitious pickups were most common in the Los Angeles area, but occurred all over the U.S. Some counties recorded a significant problem due to their local industry, like Maricopa County, Arizona; Travis and Chambers counties in Texas; and DeKalb County, Georgia.”

Ramon said California and Texas will usually see higher amounts of cargo theft compared to other states due to the large volume of goods moving through those regions at all times. 

Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana also saw increases in cargo theft during the quarter, with home and garden products and food and beverage goods as the most targeted loads.

“Georgia is perennially in the top 10 and California is always No. 1, it’s always gonna be No. 1,” Ramon said. “We recently saw that the Kentucky State Police were able to cooperate with a couple of federal agencies, they got a couple of arrests for major cargo criminals in the area. What they’ve been seeing a lot of is fraudulent thefts and strategic targeted thefts.”

Thieves use online marketplaces to sell goods

Ramon said thieves often target valuable loads that they can turn around and sell easily, such as electronics, home and garden goods, as well as food and beverage supplies, building and industrial materials and auto parts. 

“Career cargo criminals who wake up every day to steal tractor-trailers and usually travel several states to do it, when they sell an entire trailer full of cargo that they’ve stolen, they typically only get 15% to 20% of the retail value of that load,” Ramon said. “When things are in high demand, when certain products are starting to fly off the shelves and sometimes command a higher price on the secondary market than they command on the retail market, that absolutely makes it an attractive target for a cargo criminal.”

Thieves often sell stolen cargo goods on online platforms where they interact directly with consumers, according to Ramon.

“Social media marketplaces are one of the places where a lot of stolen cargo is offloaded — eBay and Amazon are places they use,” Ramon said.

“There’s some pretty scary types of fraudulent theft, we call them strategic thefts, where folks steal an entire tractor-trailer full of cargo, have it delivered to the Amazon warehouse, and this is all done fraudulently. The person, or people who arrange this, they never touch the load. It will get picked up at the origin, get double brokered through a couple of intermediaries and then the load gets rerouted, redirected, delivered to an Amazon distribution center, where the cargo thieves have a merchant account set up. That just gets accepted to the warehouse and put in under inventory and sold on the website and they just essentially collect money.”

Watch: What is the impact of Estes winning bid of Yellow Trucking’s equipment?

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More articles by Noi Mahoney

Texas resumes truck inspections long Mexico border amid migrant surge

CBP halts commercial truck processing at Texas port of entry

Borderlands: Mexico remains top US trade partner in July


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

Source link
In this article:
Share on social media: