Cargo theft in Canada and the U.S. increased, compared to the same time last year, CargoNet reports. The organization recorded 692 thefts that cost the industry over US $31 million, in the third quarter only, ‘Truck News’ informs.
The majority of the cargo stolen can be attributed to shipment misdirection attacks, which remain an ongoing issue in the transportation and logistics sector. This is an example of strategic theft, which allows attackers to use stolen carrier and broker identities to intercept and misdirect goods from their original destinations.
While the documented strategic cargo theft increased 430% year-over-year, the amount of stolen full-trailer loads increased by 4% as well.
California, Texas and Illinois remain the states with the highest theft activity, followed by Florida and Georgia.
While the most common stolen commodities include household goods, food and beverages, strategic theft groups have also acquired a taste for truckload shipments of metal like copper, brass and aluminum, CargoNet says in its 2023 Third Quarter Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis.
The organization adds that officially licensed sports apparel and truckload shipments of personal care and beauty products are also now at risk.
And thieves show no sign of slowing down, especially with the approaching Christmas holiday season.
“As we enter the final quarter of 2023, there is no indication that cargo theft activity will slow in the domestic United States,” the report reads.
“We anticipate that strategic cargo theft will remain at unprecedented levels of activity throughout the quarter.”
Since last year, cases of cargo theft increased nearly 80% in Canada and the U.S., says Keith Lewis, vice-president of operations at Verisk’s CargoNet, which reports thieves stole $223 million worth of freight in 2022. Trucking-related fraud cases are up 700%.
In Canada alone, reported cargo losses increased 29.8% last year, compared to 2021, says Bryan Gast, vice-president — investigative services at Équité Association. Ontario continues to see the highest activity, accounting for 62% of total recorded cargo thefts in the country.
One of the other patterns, seen in both Canada and the U.S., explains the 700% increase in fraudulent activity. Thieves are now expanding their networks by setting up dispatch centers in different countries, making it hard for law enforcement and prosecutors to serve subpoenas, search or arrest warrants, or simply conduct an interview.
“We are playing checkers and the bad guys are playing chess,” says Lewis.
While thieves and fraudsters may operate from abroad, the actual stolen loads rarely cross the border. Lewis says most stolen goods are unloaded closer to home: “There’re so many places to sell the commodities here [in the U.S.]. As there are in Canada, there are so many avenues to move stolen products [within] either country.”
Fresh produce like groceries is usually gone within two days, sometimes even two to 10 hours after a load is stolen, says Detective Sukhdeep Brar of the York Regional Police Auto Cargo Theft Unit.
“You will see a lot of drug users, they steal a load because they need quick money. They steal a load [worth] $100,000 and they will sell it for $5,000. So, these are the people who won’t target [a specific load]. They will do a random steal. They drive around in a stolen car, they go from one yard to another yard… These are random loads. And it could be anything,” he explains.
While Lewis believes both Canada and the U.S. suffer from a lack of enforcement and mandatory reporting, Gast says many carriers abstain from reporting thefts because they don’t want competitors to know the information or worry about losing insurance coverage.
Brar says the latter situation is particularly troubling. He recalls one case where a company went bankrupt after losing four full loads of meat. The loss of one full load usually costs between $200,000 and $300,000, and insurers might end coverage if losses climb too high.
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