FreightWatch: Cargo thefts remain at record highs in 2013

By Land Line staff | 3/5/2014

Cargo thefts in the United States ocurred an average of nearly 80 times per month in 2013, according to an annual report from FreightWatch International.

FreightWatch, which specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts around the globe, published its annual review of cargo theft data in the U.S. on Wednesday, March 5. The latest report covers cargo thefts reported during 2013. The report is compiled from U.S. theft data derived from law enforcement and industry databases. The company notes in the report that cargo theft is often underreported.

For the year, FreightWatch recorded a total of 951 thefts, the same number as 2012, tying the highest level of theft incidents on record. The average loss value per incident continued to decline, at $171,146, dropping 2.4 percent from 2012. The threat level for cargo theft in the U.S. is rated as “high” on FreightWatch’s five point risk scale, one level below “Severe.”

“Although the number remained steady, the threat of cargo theft continues to grow in the United States due to increased organization and innovation on the part of cargo thieves,” the report stated.

Among the trends outlined in FreightWatch’s analysis are a 44 percent increase in driver thefts and the southwest Dallas area being designated as a new hijacking hotspot.

The report also notes that pharmaceuticals and food and drink experienced increases in theft activity over 2012. The report attributes the rise in the number of incidents of food and drink theft in part to “low security typically in place” for those types of shipments.

The number of driver thefts rose 76 percent to an all-time high of 44 thefts in 2013, compared to 25 incidents in 2012 and only nine such cases in 2011, according to the report. The report stated that despite the increase, driver theft still accounted for only 4.6 percent of all total thefts last year.

“The types of products stolen by drivers underscore the crime of opportunity nature of this M.O., with most thefts targeting low-security types such as Food/Drinks and Metals,” the report stated. “Typically higher security loads such as Pharmaceuticals and Electronics are conspicuously absent from the driver theft repertoire.”

California remains the top stop for cargo theft, with nearly 29 percent of all recorded instances in 2013. Texas was No. 2 with 123 incidents, or almost 14 percent of thefts. Florida, Georgia and Illinois rounded out the top five.

A new cargo theft law is being partially credited by FreightWatch for helping to dramatically reduce cargo thefts in New Jersey. Reported thefts in the Garden State fell to 69 incidents in 2013, down from 78 thefts in 2012 and 120 incidents in 2011.