New Mexico bill would set felony cargo theft rule

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, January 25, 2016

An effort at the New Mexico statehouse would add the state to a short list of states to enact rules intended to discourage cargo theft.

The bill, HB182, from Reps. Bobby Gonzales, D-Taos, and Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, would establish the theft of truck or container cargo as a specific offense and impose significant punishment.

Advocates say that cargo theft by organized crime rings has become a very serious problem across the nation. The FBI says cargo theft causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year.

According to FreightWatch International, in 2015 New Mexico ranked in the top half of states in the number of cargo thefts. California, Florida, Texas, Georgia and New Jersey are in the top five.

The House Rules and Order of Business Committee could soon take up for consideration a bill that would authorize felony charges for offenders of up to nine years in prison and fines up to the value of the property stolen and the cost of recovering the property.

Texas and Georgia already have rules in place that make cargo theft a specific crime with stiff punishment for offenders.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said the issue of cargo theft is something that more states need to address.

He points out that cargo theft is bad for truckers, bad for consumers, and bad for the economy.

“When a truck driver becomes a victim of cargo theft, it can be financially devastating,” Matousek said. “Our members, the majority of which are single truck owner-operators, would effectively be out of business.”

The Association encourages New Mexico truckers to contact their state lawmakers and express support for the legislation.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Mexico, click here.

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