FreightWatch: Increase in cargo theft values buoyed by boosted booze

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 7/22/2013

The latest report on cargo thefts from commercial trucks in the U.S. shows a decrease in the frequency of such incidents, but an increase in the dollar value of the stolen merchandise.

FreightWatch International’s latest quarterly report incorporates updated data from June of 2013. The organization, which specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts worldwide, notes that delays in incident reporting have caused “measurable increases” in the theft volumes they publish. Totals for this quarter are expected to surpass those of the first quarter of 2013.

In the second quarter of 2013, FreightWatch recorded a total of 194 thefts in the U.S., with 45 instances in April, 66 in May and 83 in June. The average loss value per incident during the quarter was $164,594, a 27 percent increase in value and a 12 percent decrease in volume, compared with the same timeframe in 2012. Compared with the first quarter of this year, it represents a 4 percent increase in value and a 15 percent decrease in volume.

OOIDA Security Operations Director Doug Morris said he’s skeptical of an overall decrease in theft occurrences.

“I think to say it’s going down, it’s highly suspect,” he said. “I think that’s what you’ll see in the second quarter as well is a lot of thefts that are reported to them after the reporting period. It’s not going down; it’s either staying the same or going up.”

Morris does agree with the report’s position that thieves are targeting more high-end freight.

“These cargo theft rings are targeting higher value loads,” he said. “They’re getting smarter about the way they do business. “There’s a group out there just targeting the shipments of alcohol, and it’s just a matter of time whether they get caught or not.”

Alcohol has moved into the top spot on FreightWatch’s list of highest average loss value, at $571,329 per instance. Two high-dollar thefts of alcohol shipments included the June thefts of a trailer carrying more than 10,000 bottles of Chicken Cock whiskey en route from South Carolina at a value of $1.4 million, and another million-dollar heist of high-end vodka from a Miami warehouse.

As cargo thieves get smarter and more sophisticated, Morris said it’s important for drivers to do the same.

“We’ll see that where the driver will be talking to somebody on the CB, or just to a waitress at the truck stop. We find out that conversation has taken place, and then their load’s been stolen by ‘coincidence.’”

Morris said the majority of these thefts are occurring over long weekends and long breaks.

“Drivers just need to be more aware of the safety aspect when they park their truck when it’s loaded,” he said, “and don’t tell people what kind of cargo they have.”

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