Today's Trucking Staff
TORONTO, ON — In security circles, the Greater Toronto Area has come to be known as the “shopping triangle” for cargo thieves who continue to wreak havoc on the Canadian trucking industry to the tune of $5 billion per year, snapping up everything from electronics to metals, by any means necessary.
Canada’s cargo theft crisis continues to escalate, with reports to the Insurance Bureau of Canada doubling to 400 over 2015 alone, primarily in southern Ontario. As Canada’s most targeted area, the shopping triangle is a geographical region that’s not only on organized crime’s radar, but the radar of security experts like Ron Hartman, too, who’s working to empower trucking companies through a long list of modern prevention measures.
“We all know it’s a lot easier to prevent a crime than solve it,” says Hartman, speaking at a Wednesday seminar hosted by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. “You must think like a criminal.”
Hartman is director of security solutions for AFIMAC Global, which specializes in cargo theft prevention. While the old school criminal methods of hijacking cargo are alive and well, Hartman says technology has allowed for more criminals to operate from behind the safety of a desk, utilizing online information and applications to find new ways to infiltrate the system, and of course, precious cargo.
One of the more recent cargo theft phenomenon is dubbed fraudulent pickups. Essentially, criminals setup an entirely fictitious trucking company online, and then use it to prey on shippers who don’t do their homework, failing to screen and verify data. The criminals troll load boards and make a deal.
“Then that load gets picked up and never delivered,” says Hartman.
Hartman describes the cargo theft business as “low risk, low penalty, high reward.” In fact, theft is so pervasive that he estimates as much as 60 per cent of these crimes go unreported, mostly out of fear over rising insurance premiums, or corporate image. Of course, nobody likes to admit they’re a victim.
Once criminals have secured their stolen goods, Hartman says they tend to break down the shipment into smaller quantities, repackage, then export it.
“For those with an untrained eye, it looks like the normal course of business,” adds Hartman.
When it comes to what exactly thieves are stealing, the answer is anything and everything. Recent Canadian heists involved T-Shirts and a shipment of silver, but electronics continue to lead the way, Hartman says, representing about 18 per cent of cargo thefts. Items like beverages and auto parts both represent 10 per cent of thefts.
In 2014, in an attempt to put a stop to cargo theft crime nationwide, theInsurance Bureau of Canada andCanadian Trucking Alliance teamed up and expanded their joint IBC-CTA reporting form into a national reporting program.