California bill aims at cargo theft

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/7/2016

The state of California is a hotspot for the theft of truck, rail and container cargo. One Assembly bill addresses heightened concern about the crime.

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

California law already appropriates funding to cover the costs for the Highway Patrol to deter commercial vehicle cargo thefts and provide security of carriers and cargoes throughout the state.

Assembly Member Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, is behind legislation intended to “enhance crime prevention efforts” by establishing a pilot program to strengthen law enforcement agencies’ ability to detect and monitor cargo theft crimes, and to authorize a cargo theft prevention program.

Specifically, the program would create statewide standards and methods of detecting and tracking cargo theft crime.

OOIDA says legislative efforts to deter cargo theft are a step in the right direction to help protect truck drivers and their property.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, has said in most cases of cargo theft owner-operators would effectively be out of business.

“In the short term, without equipment there is no way to make money and in the long term they might lose business from a freight broker or motor carrier,” Matousek said.

Olsen wrote that the change is necessary to aid the state in dealing with an escalation in cargo theft crimes at a time when there has been no concentrated effort for prevention.

She notes that the state loses $5 million to $6 million daily from cargo theft.

“These crimes impact all sectors of California’s economy, including agriculture, retail, and technology,” Olsen wrote.

Olsen added that local law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdictional authority, investigative facilities, or data systems to coordinate a comprehensive approach to the state’s cargo theft crime problem.

“The proliferation of cargo theft crimes in the state is a threat to the vitality of our economy,” she said. “Cargo theft crime, if left unchecked, endangers multiple industries that are vital to America’s continued economic role in the world.”

The bill, AB2805, awaits assignment to committee in the Assembly.

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

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