California has been described as a candy store for cargo thieves.
Truck bandits are thriving in the region because of the massive
amounts of cargo moving through it around the clock.
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and counties each
day reportedly rip off about $2 million worth of assorted goods
- the highest cargo theft losses in the country. Figures from
the California Highway Patrol show that 259 cargo theft investigations
were opened in 2000. By Dec. 31, 2001, the number of investigations
had ballooned to 437.
believe thieves are enticed by the Los Angeles-Long Beach port
complex, the nation's busiest, which each year handles more than
5 million shipping containers with cargo valued at more than $170
billion. Nearby, Los Angeles International Airport ships about
78 percent of the western states' air cargo.
attribute the surge in thefts partly to the sheer increase in
such freight movement in recent years. They also say criminals
discovered that cargo heists generally carry lesser penalties
than drug dealing, with no start-up costs.
merchandise on the black market reportedly includes laptop computers
and computer chips, as well as baby formula, frozen sea food,
toilet paper, clothing, dog food and cigarettes, all of which
can be sold easily in small retail outlets locally, in Mexico