Georgia law to deter cargo theft in effect July 1

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/20/2014

A new law in Georgia set to take effect the first of the month stiffens the punishment for truck, rail or container cargo thieves.

Described as taking “criminals and organizations head on,” the new law establishes cargo theft as a specific offense and imposes escalating fines and punishment based on the value of goods or controlled substances stolen.

Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, said that “very sophisticated criminal networks have moved into Georgia and have begun to take advantage of our laws and our businesses in regard to stealing cargo.”

He pointed out that the state was identified as one of the top three states for cargo theft in 2013.

“That’s not something we want to be part of our business environment,” Duncan previously told Land Line. He said the new law “is as much about deterring folks from committing the crime to being a business-friendly piece that allows people to rest assured.”

Effective July 1, offenders who steal cargo from trucks loaded with controlled substances, or pharmaceuticals, valued at less than $10,000 would face fines up to $100,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison.

Theft of controlled substances valued up to $1 million can carry as much as 25 years behind bars and/or fines up to $1 million. Loads valued in excess of $1 million could result in prison terms as long as 30 years and/or fines up to $1 million.

Violators of other property heists valued as much as $1,500 would face misdemeanor charges. Theft of cargo valued as high as $10,000 would include fines up to $100,000 and/or 10 years behind bars. Stolen loads valued up to $1 million could result in 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million.

Fifth wheels, and any antitheft locking device attached to the fifth wheel, are also covered in the new law. Any attempt to alter, move or sell a fifth wheel could result in 10-year prison terms and/or $100,000 fines.

OOIDA Director of Security Operations Doug Morris said the Georgia law is a step in the right direction to help protect truck drivers and their property. He has also said that providing truckers with safe places to park is needed to address this issue.

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