The theft of truckloads of merchandise is much more common than the general public thinks, according to a trucking expert.
People are talking about these types of thefts following reports that two trailers full of Columbia Sportswear products were stolen early Sunday morning in London.
A pair of transport trucks were first stolen from TriSec Warehousing Ltd. The trucks were then driven to Columbia Sportswear and hooked onto two trailers full of Columbia product at about 5 a.m. Sunday, London police said.
"In this industry, we know it's not the opportunistic criminal that's identifying a whole truckload of merchandise and says: 'Hey, this looks like something fun to steal'," said Jennifer Fox, vice-president of trade and security with the Ontario Trucking Association. "What we have is a very organized criminal element in place."
In this particular case in London, it seems the thieves knew what they were looking for and what they were doing, Fox said in an interview with CBC News.
"What we had is drivers who actually know how to operate a transport truck, which is not an easy thing to do and they also have the necessary network in place to sense those goods — get them to market, get them out of the truck, get rid of them and then ditch the truck somewhere."
Thieves hungry for food products to nabAccording to research of cargo thefts by the Ontario Trucking Association, food products are the number one commodity being stolen, as well as house hold products. The reason? They're easy to off-load and get rid of quickly.
"What the criminals are looking for are anything they can get their hands on and get rid of relatively quickly," she said.
There is also a high demand for food and household items year-round, she said.
Fox added that cargo theft is also often not reported, making it difficult for her organization to pinpoint how frequently they occur.
"We have, for years, been trying to bring more attention to the issue," she said. "Initially, I think there was hesitation from the trucking industry to start talking about this issue and how often it's happening. There's a real fear about the negative image that can be conjured up by your customers and the public if you seem to be victimized by this."
More trucking companies are, however, coming forward with information about thefts, Fox said. There's a level of frustration in the industry that it seems the criminals are getting more sophisticated in how they operate.
"They have things such as GPS blockers now, so you put a GPS on your trailer and the criminal element can use these GPS blockers and essentially block that signal," she said.
The more the industry discusses the issues, the more comfortable and motivated members feel to stop it, Fox said.