September 25, 2015 | Industry Insights

‘Tis the Season for Cargo Theft

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The months of September through December are traditionally peak season for motor truck cargo shipments. It’s also, unfortunately, a high season for cargo theft. According to data released by security firm FreightWatch International, in 2014, the “concentration” of cargo theft activity between September and December totaled 245 incidents, with the greatest number – almost one-third of the period’s total – occurring in October as a “surge” of goods flooded the supply chain ahead of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving retail shopping extravaganza.

“Holiday weekends are notorious for presenting increased cargo theft risks for transportation companies, shippers, and manufacturers,” FreightWatch noted in a recent update. “Organized theft rings are always active and recognize holiday weekends can cause shipments to be unattended for prolonged periods of time.”

FreightWatch cited two “coveted commodities” are targeted every year during the pre-Thanksgiving shipment run-up: electronics plus clothing and apparel, comprising 23% of the reported thefts yielding average losses $1.37 million and $328,051, respectively.

Full truckload thefts constitute 89% of cargo theft in the U.S. now, said FreightWatch. Many heists include driver theft incidents involving 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.

“This ‘modus operandi’ has evolved to often include drivers orchestrating mechanical failures, documentation of repair services, and the subsequent use of a viable alibi upon the arrival of law enforcement,” the firm noted. “This growing trend – surreptitious driver – warrants acute awareness as the shipping industry enters its peak season.”

Fictitious pick-ups continue to also be a growing theft in the U.S., noted FreightWatch. “During the 2014 pre-holiday peak, 13 cases of fictitious pickups were reported in the U.S. totaling over $2.2 million in lost cargo,” the company said. “Electronics plus clothing and shoes were targeted in 38% of those crimes.”

Another reason why cargo theft activity spikes during this time is because of the supply and demand constraints that occur when freight volumes increase. “Limitations on available carriers often necessitate more brokering, as well as re-brokering to the second, third and sometimes fourth-order carriers,” FreightWatch said.

Logistics professionals, transporters, and security professionals can help combat this threat by taking a proactive approach to cargo security, including being aware of the threat and exercising proper due diligence when sourcing carriers is essential. Also, 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,” said FreightWatch.

Roanoke Trade provides a full spectrum of insurance products, including legal liability products that address the exposures to logistics service providers and intermediaries that may result from theft and fraud, and cargo insurance that protects shippers from financial loss. Additionally, we work hard to find you the best rates for the best coverage. To speak to a Roanoke specialist about your insurance protection, please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653).




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