FreightWatch: Food and drinks remain top target of cargo thieves in Mexico

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 7/31/2013

Foods and beverages remain the most common items stolen by truck thieves in Mexico, according to the latest quarterly report from the cargo security industry.

Of the 295 cargo thefts recorded in Mexico from April to June 2013, food and drinks accounted for 30 percent of all thefts, up from 26 percent in the same timeframe in 2012, according to the latest report from FreightWatch International. Building supplies and materials were the second most common cargo, at 15 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2012. Information on the type of cargo stolen was unavailable in 20 percent of all recorded incidents.

FreightWatch International, a global supply chain and logistics firm, recorded 295 incidents of cargo theft in Mexico from April to June of 2013. That number is significantly lower than the 401 thefts recorded during the same time period in 2012, but the company says a variety of factors, including a “lack of consistency” in reporting throughout the various states in Mexico, make it difficult to determine if the drop is actually that substantial.

“The inconsistency continues to be that there are no national parameters for recording cargo theft incidents, some states still reporting incidents as vehicle thefts occurring on highways,” the company said in a report issued on Tuesday.

“Another issue is possibly the lack of confidence in officials to follow through on reports made, some victims considering it a waste of time. Mexico has made efforts to address the cargo crime scourge, especially on the nation’s highways, but it is unclear whether this has contributed to the overall drop in theft numbers.”

OOIDA security operations director Doug Morris agrees that there are reasons for skepticism in the report’s findings.

“Keep in mind that FreightWatch only captures, at the most, 10 percent of all thefts, so the actual number stated would be much higher than what is being reported,” he said.

“The trends south of the border have no impact on cargo theft within the United States. The cargo thefts in Mexico are generally committed by sophisticated drug cartels who don’t have a problem with executing a driver on the side of the road.”

Other factors may include the Mexican government’s “Highway Quadrant” initiative of 2013, which aims to increase security along the country’s highways. Data from FreightWatch shows that seven of the country’s top 10 states for cargo theft are in the center of the country.

The report also stated that hijackings remain the most common form of truck theft, accounting for 59 percent of all thefts this quarter. It also cited notable thefts in its incident report.

On April 5 authorities detained 10 suspected cargo thieves as they were unloading 27 tons of frozen pork from a stolen trailer. The shipment, which originated in Sonora state, had been stolen in Mexico City and taken to a private residence in Netzahualcoyotl, State of Mexico. As authorities moved in for the arrests, some of the suspects mounted a failed attempt to flee the scene in a taxi.

In Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato state, on April 22, two armed thieves hijacked a truck hauling plasma TVs. The incident occurred shortly after the driver pulled over in an attempt to avoid an inspection station. The driver claimed that the thieves forced him into a field and made him ingest a drink that rendered him unconscious.

A rail yard in Irapuato, Guanajuato, reported the attempted theft of computer tablets and their batteries during the early morning hours of May 12. Details are sketchy, but it appears the thieves had removed 37 boxes from a container in the yard before their actions were interrupted. The same yard reported another unsuccessful theft attempt a week earlier, this time targeting 270 crates of beer.

On June 9 local police in Mexicali, Baja California, arrested two suspects in connection with the hijacking earlier in the day of a truck transporting 30 tons of steel. According to reports, the driver was traveling with his wife and son when the attack occurred.

The thieves escaped with the truck, taking the driver and his son hostage but leaving the wife behind. After she contacted police, officers located the stolen truck and moved in for the arrests. That’s when the thief driving the truck abandoned the vehicle and jumped into a trail car. A high-speed chase ended when the thieves lost control of their vehicle and drove into a canal. During their interrogation, they acknowledged already having a buyer for the steel.

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