Published Thursday July 21st, 2011
Organized truck thieves have infiltrated New Brunswick in a big way this month, hauling off with several tractor-trailers and scoring piles of valuable cargo in the process.
A file shot of a transport truck rolling down a highway. The Canadian Trucking Alliance recently put together a report that guessed cargo and truck theft costs Canadian firms $5 billion a year. Photo: Noel Chenier/Telegraph-Journal Archive
Seven trailers and five trucks have been stolen in the past two weeks from the Woodstock area, thefts the RCMP has estimated to be worth in the millions of dollars.
Five of the trailers have turned up in Montreal, emptied of their cargo. Three of the trucks have been found in different spots across western New Brunswick and Quebec, all missing their trailers. Valley Express Transport Ltd. had three fully loaded trucks lifted from its property in Bearsdley on July 9, a theft estimated to be valued at $1 million. The woman who answered the phone at the firm's office said the company didn't want to comment on the theft.
Cpl. Yann Audoux, spokesman for the New Brunswick RCMP, wouldn't reveal the contents of any of the trailers, saying, "That information is part of our investigation at this time."
"It sounded like they had specific trailers in mind," said Jean-Marc Picard, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, who spoke with the affected trucking company owners earlier this week. "Who knows who their sources were."
"This has certainly opened a few eyes. It seems it's people who are organized and they know what they're doing. It's not a random act."
He said cargo theft has yet to make inroads in New Brunswick like it has in Ontario and Quebec. These types of thefts are usually related to organized crime, he said, and often the criminals have no interest in the truck.
"Usually they want loads that are easy to get rid of."
Hard numbers on cargo theft are nearly impossible to track, said Jennifer Fox, vice-president of customs with the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Police and insurance companies don't track the numbers separately from other types of theft, she said, and often trucking firms are reluctant to report the crimes because insurance deductibles and rate hikes don't make it worth while.
The organization recently put together a report that guessed cargo and truck theft costs Canadian firms $5 billion a year.
"And the perception is that it's on the rise," she said.
The alliance is working with law enforcement agencies to create a universal template that officers can use to track the incidents, giving both officers and trucking firms a better picture of thefts across the country, and possibly give incites into how they can be reduced.
Picard, of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, said he's encouraging his members report any incidents.
"It's obviously not the first time and probably won't be the last," Picard said.
In 2004 truck driver Wade Haines, perhaps New Brunswick's most famous transport truck thief, made off with a truckload of 50,000 Spanish-labeled cans of Moosehead beer bound for Mexico. Police traced a trail back to Haines after the exotic Moosehead beers cans started turning up in towns across the province.