FreightWatch: Cargo theft values up, incidents down from March to May

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 6/17/2014

The number of reported cargo theft incidents in the United States fell roughly 11 percent from March to May but the average loss value per incident rose almost 90 percent, 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 of this year. The report is compiled from U.S. theft data derived from law enforcement and industry databases.

In this rolling quarter FreightWatch recorded a total of 183 thefts in the United States, with 80 thefts in March, 55 in April and 48 in May. The average loss value per incident during the period was $242,010.

The decline in reported incidents coupled with an increase in overall loss values mirrors the trend from the first quarter of 2014, when theft incidents fell roughly 5 percent, but loss values climbed by 38.5 percent.

Doug Morris, OOIDA security operations director, said the numbers reflect an increasing level of sophistication among cargo thieves, who are believed to be targeting specific types of loads.

“(Thieves) are not just going to areas and picking up a trailer and going down the road and seeing if they can get rid of it,” he said. “Now they’re targeting loads – the same old suspects: meat, beer, metals and consumer goods and wares that they can get rid of quickly.”

Stop in well-lit places, don’t leave the load unattended for too long, and if you can afford it, use theft deterrent devices like locks and GPS tracking devices.

The FreightWatch report indicated that electronics were the product type stolen most often during the quarter, with 34 thefts, or 19 percent of all incidents. Food and drinks experienced 30 thefts, or roughly 16 percent of the total. There were also 20 reported thefts in the home/garden product type, accounting for roughly 11 percent of all thefts.

The report states that six of the 13 product types FreightWatch tracks experienced fewer thefts this quarter than during the previous three months. Among the product types that saw drops in incidents were auto/parts, clothing/shoes, metals, and pharmaceutical supplies.

Despite an overall decrease in thefts from the previous rolling quarter, seven product types increased in theft volume this quarter, according to the report. In addition to electronics thefts almost doubling from 20 to 34 incidents, alcohol/tobacco increased from five to 12 incidents, personal care thefts increased from six to 11, and thefts targeting pharmaceutical medications increased from one to two.

Florida displaced California as the state with most reported thefts, with 45 incidents, or about 25 percent of all U.S. incidents for the quarter. The Golden Gate state had 37 reported incidents, followed by 27 thefts in Texas, 20 in Georgia, and nine thefts in Illinois during the quarter.

Of the incidents in which a location type was recorded, unsecured parking accounted for 87 percent of all thefts, with 120 incidents reported. Only five incidents were reported at secured parking areas. Once again, thefts of trailers and containers were the most common theft type, representing 80 percent of all reported thefts.

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