Cargo theft is about to enter its busiest season, and motor carriers, in particular, are advised to be on guard.
According to FreightWatch International, theft activity in the U.S. in 2013 was concentrated in the fourth quarter with a total of 242 incidents. The greatest number of incidents occurred in late September just before the beginning of the holiday shipping season.
The U.S. has also seen a “significant” rise in driver theft incidents, which involve either direct theft by the driver, the driver’s voluntary collusion or complicity in the crime or a deceptive criminal posing as a legitimate carrier resource, FreightWatch said. This method of crime reached an all-time high in 2013, soaring 76 percent from 2012 and 389 percent from 2011.
“This growing trend – surreptitious driver – warrants acute awareness as the shipping industry enters its peak season,” FreightWatch said.
The driver turnover rate ― the rate at which drivers need to be replaced ― was 92 percent at large carriers in the first quarter, according to the American Trucking Associations’ latest quarterly Trucking Activity Report, which is a “huge” disadvantage and security risk to an organization’s supply chain, according to FreightWatch.
“Fictitious pickups continue to be a growing threat in our industry,” the analyst said. “The frequency of fictitious pickups increased sharply from 2011 to 2012, remained relatively constant in 2013, and have resumed a steep upward path during the first two quarters of 2014; 26 fictitious pickups have already been reported this year, totaling over $3.5 million in lost cargo.”
Forty percent of those incidents in 2014 targeted electronics and apparel, FreightWatch said. These low-risk, high-reward incidents continue to be relatively easy for the criminal to organize, while becoming increasingly painful for enterprises to endure.
The peak season from July to September adds even more risk of cargo thefts to supply chains, as limitations on available carriers often necessitate brokering, according to the report. Logisticians, transporters and security professionals should be aware of the threats, as well as exercise due diligence when sourcing carriers and ensure that all participants in the supply chain comply with industry best practices.
“The organized criminal dedicates an inordinate amount of time to surveillance, preparation and rehearsals; we must dedicate ample resources to proactively combat this growing threat,” FreightWatch said.
From May through July, FreightWatch recorded 179 thefts in the U.S., with 66 thefts in May, 53 in June and 60 in July. The average loss per value per incident during the period was $151,174. Compared with the previous quarter, thefts decreased 12 percent, while the average loss value decreased 35 percent. Food and drinks were the product types most often stolen with 37 thefts or 21 percent of all incidents during the three-month period.
Contact Grace M. Lavigne at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter: @Lavigne_JOC.