FreightWatch: Cargo thefts down another 16 percent in second quarter

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 6/24/2013

Cargo thefts from commercial trucks are down in the U.S. for the second quarter, although the average value of those losses are up, according to the latest report from FreightWatch International.

FreightWatch, which specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts around the globe, publishes its quarterly reports on a rolling basis. The latest report covers cargo thefts reported between March and May, 2013. The report is compiled from U.S. theft data derived from law enforcement and industry databases.

In the period from March through May 2013, FreightWatch recorded a total of 185 thefts in the United States, with 79 thefts in March, 44 in April and 62 in May, according to its latest report. The average loss value per incident during this period was $156,408. Compared with the previous quarter, thefts fell by 16 percent, although the average loss value increased by 9 percent.

“At this time it is unclear whether the drop in cargo theft levels is an actual decline in cargo theft or a delay in cargo theft reporting,” the report stated.

Doug Morris, OOIDA security operations director, said he believes at least some instances of theft are going unreported.

“A lot of these big companies, when they have a theft, don’t want it out there,” he said. “They’ll report it to the police, but not so much to a company like FreightWatch. It’s still in the databases of the National Crime Information Center, but that’s not a public report. … That’s why we have FreightWatch.”

In the period from December 2012 through February 2013, FreightWatch recorded a total of 199 thefts in the U.S., with 77 thefts in December, 53 in January and 69 in February. The average loss value per incident during this period was $133,711. Compared with the previous quarter, thefts fell by 20 percent and average loss value dropped by 39 percent.

Food and drinks, were once again the most commonly stolen type of load, with 50 thefts reported in the quarter. These thefts composed 27 percent of all incidents from March to May. The pharmaceutical industry experienced 21 thefts, 11 percent of the total, and 19 thefts, 10 percent of all thefts, of electronics.

California remained the state with the most thefts, followed by Texas, Florida, Illinois and Georgia. The 49 thefts in California alone accounted for 26 percent of all thefts nationwide.

Morris said some states are trying to fight back by legislating tougher penalties for thieves who are caught.

“New Jersey’s done a lot (to curb theft),” he said. “They’ve enacted bigger penalties for cargo theft and theft of trucks. They’re on the right track.”

Unsecured parking was the most common spot targeted by cargo thieves in the incidents in which location types were recorded. Incidents involving theft of trailer, 126 in all, accounted for 68 percent of all thefts. The clothing/shoes category had the highest average loss value at $432,750, a 95 percent increase of over the last quarter.

When it comes to safety, Morris said drivers should always attempt to park in areas they know, avoid telling people what they are hauling, and never leave the truck and trailer unattended for long periods of time.

“We had (a theft) in the Bronx, where a guy picked the load up then went home to be with his family,” he said. “You can almost expect it to be stolen if you leave your truck unattended for that amount of time. You’ve just got to keep an eye your truck, keep an eye on your load, and don’t leave it unattended for long periods of time.

“For our OOIDA members, we have the TRACER hotline to get the information out if their truck is stolen,” Morris said. “We have avenues we can get the information out to different scale houses across the country and different wholesalers. We’ve had some good response for this from law enforcement and we’ve actually recovered loads.”

TRACER is the Transportation Alert Communication and Emergency Response program launched in 2009 by OOIDA. The program is a two-way communication system that sends alerts to members and coordinates information received from trucking members.

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