Cargo Theft a Major Concern During the Holiday Season

12/10/14

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It is now peak season for cargo theft. In 2013, theft activity grew in the fourth quarter with more than 242 incidents reported. The greatest number was reported in late September/early October, at the beginning of the holiday shipping season. Recent data shows Texas is the worst state in the nation for these thefts, followed by California, Georgia, Florida and Illinois.  Of particular interest is significant rise in cargo theft that involves the driver.  In these cases, the driver is directly or indirectly involved with the theft or the driver voluntarily colluded with a criminal who posed as a person or carrier with legitimate resources.  Driver thefts tend to fluctuate in volume year-to-year. However, it reached an all-time high in 2013, with a 76% increase over 2012, and a 389% increase over 2011. This growing trend of driver involved theft warrants heightened awareness as the shipping industry enters its peak season. Areas of vulnerability are significant in driver turnover and unsecured yards.

Driver turnover creates unsecurable risk.  The American Trucking Association  in July reported an increase to 92% in the turnover rate of full-truckload (FTL) drivers in the United States - a huge disadvantage and security risk to an organization's supply chain.

Another area of vulnerability is found in unsecured yards.  Theft from unsecured yards is higher than truck stop theft, with almost 40% of thefts occurring on Saturday and Sunday.  Fictitious pick-ups continue to be a growing threat in our industry. The frequency of fictitious pick-ups increased sharply from 2011 to 2012.  It remained relatively constant in 2013, but has resumed a steep increase during the first two quarters of 2014.  Twenty-six fictitious pick-ups have already been reported this year, totaling over $3.5M in lost cargo. Forty percent (40%) of these incidents targeted electronics and apparel. These low-risk high-reward incidents continue to be relatively easy for criminals to organize, while becoming increasingly painful for enterprises to endure. The average loss on cargo theft is nearly $16,000. 

We can combat this threat by taking a proactive approach to cargo security. Awareness of the threat by everyone within your organization is critical. It is essential to carefully source your transportation providers. You should know who is going to carry your reputation, customer service experience, and potential liability.  Today's cargo criminal spends considerably more time on surveillance, preparation, and rehearsals than in the past.  We must dedicate ample resources to proactively combat this growing threat.

Steven Bojan, is the Vice President - Fleet Risk Services, for the Risk Services Division HUB International. To reach Steven or a local HUB risk services expert click here