According to reporting by the SensiGuard Supply Chain Intelligence Center, 2017 US cargo thefts dropped by 15%, with the average cargo theft value staying stable at about $146,000. Other reports differed somewhat, with CargoNet reporting the average theft at $196,109.
The Truth Behind Freight Theft Numbers
The problem is that the statistics only reflect change in reported cargo thefts – the actual numbers may be a different story. There are lots of reasons thefts go unreported. If a carrier is known to be a victim of cargo theft, prospective shippers may avoid hiring them. Public knowledge of freight theft can cause issues for shippers as well. Once the freight theft is reported in the news, stock prices can fall since investors know the company can no longer profit from the stolen goods.
Shifts in Freight Theft Type
According to transportation crime and theft specialist Scott Cornell, cargo theft is seeing a shift in targeting from truckload to LTL shipments. LTL shipments are less closely guarded, and the goods are easier to sell quickly. Moreover, the goods end up being an assortment of small shipments from multiple shippers, so the thefts are often too low value for any of the owners to report to police or insurance. The other benefit to thieves is that LTL trucks make many stops, providing many opportunities for theft.
According to CargoNet, the major target for freight thieves are warehouses and fenced yards. In fact, 18% of all freight thefts occurred at fenced yard locations.
Top Commodities Stolen
Food and beverages have been a favorite commodity among freight thieves. Food and beverage is easy to sell, and it doesn’t have a high enough value for companies to implement additional security precautions. Also, since the goods are quickly consumed, there’s a short window for recovery, unlike electronics.
Food thefts can be an even bigger burden than manufactured goods since growers can’t simply add more shifts to manufacture replacement product – if a shipment of nuts are stolen, distributors need to wait for the next growing season to grow more.
In Canada, another popular target is construction materials, due to Canada’s current construction boom.
Freight Theft Risks
As in previous years, thefts were most common on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. According to CargoNet, in 37% of freight theft incidents, cargo was left unattended for several days.
Law Enforcement Makes Strides in Freight Theft Reduction
States such as California and New Jersey typically see high levels of freight theft due to the large amount of cargo traffic traveling through their ports. However, in 2017, these states saw a 32% and 13% theft reduction, respectively. These improved stats are being attributed to the work of specialized cargo theft police forces in these states. Until the rest of the country follows suit, read up on common freight theft methods, and how to protect yourself from freight fraud.