EDMONTON — Cargo theft is a big-ticket industry in Canada, costing Canadians upwards of $5 billion per year. But now, police, insurance groups and trucking associations are hoping to crack down on the crime, which is on the rise in Alberta.
Thieves often target trucks carrying household items like laundry detergent, T-shirts and electronics, and sell them in underground, illegal markets.
“A thriving black market keeps sophisticated and networked thieves in business,” the IBC said.
Shawn Korchinski drives truck and says he’s always on alert for thieves. But even though he watches his load like a hawk, Korchinski’s been through some interesting ordeals.
“I’ve pulled into a truck stop, gone in for something to eat, come out, didn’t check my pin when I go away and drive away the pin’s been pulled and the trailer drops,” he explained.
He’s also heard horror stories from fellow drivers.
“Guys will be sleeping in the bunks… and all of a sudden they wake up the truck’s there but the trailer’s gone. Someone’s gone in, moved the truck out and boom! There goes the trailer.”
Often times, the items are sold off before they’re even reported stolen.
“We see loads that are stolen at 3 a.m., the goods are for sale at yard sales by 8 a.m. And in one instance, later that same day the other half of the load is Stateside destined for the Port of Los Angeles,” Bill Adams with the IBC said.
“These (are) criminal gangs. These are not a mom and pop operation, this is not a crime of opportunity. These are sophisticated rings.”
In hopes of getting one step ahead of the thieves, trucking companies, police and the insurance industry have teamed up. They’ve created a national database that tracks and shares cargo theft details.
“We hope that by having this kind of pan-Canadian approach to the issue and by working with counterparts in the U.S., that ultimately we will get ahead of this,” Adams said.
The cargo theft reporting program has already seen success in eastern Canada. The IBC says companies have managed to recover about one third of all the reported stolen cargo since the database was created.
On Tuesday, it was expanded to include B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. For more information on the program, visit the IBC’s website.