Canadian truckers, shippers and law enforcement are launching a public awareness campaign on the scourge of cargo theft, which may be costing upward of half-a-million dollars per day in the greater Toronto area alone.
Dubbed “Project Momentum”, the initiative’s main goal is to raise awareness of the economic impact of cargo theft on not only drivers and carriers, but shippers, insurers and the communities as well.
The effort is a collaboration between the Canadian Trucking Association, the Ontario Trucking Association, and Canadian law enforcement, aimed particularly at the Highway 401 corridor between the cities of Windsor and Toronto. The Highway 401 corridor is the biggest hotspot for cargo theft and related crimes.
Jennifer Fox, vice president of trade and security for the Ontario Trucking Association in partnership with the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said the group is focused on getting the message out that cargo-related crimes are about more than just theft.
“We started off calling it cargo theft, but then we moved away from that terminology because it’s more than just the theft of cargo,” Fox said. “The theft of cargo involves all sorts of crimes – hijacking, smuggling, fraud, identity theft, cyber crimes, double-brokering. It touched so many different areas that we had to move to calling it cargo crime to be more accurate.”
Fox said the half-a-million-a-day figure on theft-related losses, which comes from information obtained through the Insurance Bureau of Canada, may be grossly underestimating the problem.
“Part of the problem with reporting the cost and value and extent of the problem is that most cargo thefts go unreported,” she said. “One of the things CTA is trying to do is to quantify the problem. We commissioned a report in 2010 with a series of recommendations for ways we can put some numbers behind the issue. There’s no way right now for the data in cargo theft to be adequately and uniformly captured and recorded. There’s no uniform consistency to who they’re reporting the data to, who’s capturing the data and how that data is reported.”
Fox also said the initiative also hopes to recruit more industry players into a database that would standardize the tracking and reporting of cargo crimes. The industry is partnering with New Jersey-based firm CargoNet, which maintains a database of cargo theft and related crimes in North America. Last year, eight carriers partnered with CargoNet to provide a standardized reporting method for documenting theft incidents. CargoNet then passes that information on to insurers and law enforcement agencies that have subscribed to its service.
“We need more carriers involved,” Fox said. “Eight carriers across Canada is not nearly enough. We need (carriers) to become members of CargoNet, report your incidents and let’s get more law enforcement bodies signed up to receive this information and work together to put some numbers behind this.”
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