FreightWatch says 2.1 cargo thefts per day in the U.S. in 2015

By Land Line staff | Tuesday, February 16, 2016

There were on average 63 reported trucking cargo thefts per month in 2015 – roughly two incidents per day – according to the latest FreightWatch report on U.S. cargo theft.

A total of 754 incidents of cargo theft were recorded in 2015, with an average loss value of $184,101, representing a 6 percent drop in volume and a 21 percent drop in value compared to 2014.

FreightWatch, which specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts around the globe, also publishes quarterly reports in addition to an annual report on cargo theft.

Despite the decline in the number of reported thefts and total loss values, the company warns that the threat of cargo theft continues to grow in the United States “due to increased organization and innovation on the part of cargo thieves as they broaden their geographical areas of operation and improve their methods to avoid detection and capture.”

The report notes that thefts involving pharmaceutical products quadrupled in volume, and that facility thefts were recorded at record-high rates in 2015.

According to the report, theft volumes recorded a dramatic 12 percent drop from 2013 to 2014. FreightWatch says several possible explanations for the continued drop in reported incidents include thieves redirecting their focus to less-than-full truckload (LTL) shipments, so that no victim’s losses in a full truckload theft event may be enough to justify a police report and insurance claim. The company further speculates that organized cargo criminals are adapting by moving operations into areas with less law enforcement awareness of cargo theft, resulting in thefts that are misclassified, a frequently cited issue with determining the scope of domestic cargo theft.

The number of reported facility thefts was higher in 2015 than at any point since the company began collecting data in 2006. The average loss value on facilities theft was $681,709, which is more than three times the value of the average stolen trailer.

“In addition, case studies, such as 2015 cargo thefts in Nevada, show that 100 percent of thefts were facility thefts of electronics, indicating a desire and ability on the part of thieves to focus not only on one commodity but one method of theft as well,” the report stated.

More than half of all recorded in-transit thefts involved stealing stationary and unattended trailers and containers, the report stated. Of all thefts with a known location, 86 percent occurred within an unsecured parking area, such as a truck stop, public parking or drop lot.

The report does not claim to count every instance of cargo theft but rather only those thefts reported by sources such as transportation security councils, insurance companies and law enforcement organizations. The report also states that figures from the most recent quarter are expected to rise in the coming weeks, because of what the company in the past has referred to as a “substantial underreporting” of cargo thefts nationwide.

Food and drinks continue to be the most stolen product type, accounting for 24 percent of total thefts in the U.S. Electronics and home and garden products were the second- and third-most stolen cargo type, accounting for 15 percent and 12 percent of all reported thefts respectively.

Florida overtook California as the state with the most reported incidents of cargo theft, with 168 and 162 respectively. Texas (106 reported thefts), New Jersey (67 thefts) and Georgia (65 thefts) rounded out the Top 5 states with the most verified reports of cargo theft.

The report also states that full truckload thefts were the most common type during the quarter, accounting for 81 percent of all reported thefts. Pilferage, with 9 percent, was second-most and fictitious pickup and facility theft accounted for roughly 5 percent each of all reported thefts.

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