What is Causing Cargo Theft To Increase?

March 20, 2024
Cassandra Gaines

Currently the freight industry is dealing with a big increase in cargo theft according to a latest report, which shows a whopping 59% jump in these crimes from 2022 to 2023. This rise necessitates a reevaluation of security and risk management strategies within the industry, as criminal tactics and bottomfeeders become increasingly sophisticated.

An Evolving Freight Landscape

Cargo theft is transforming from traditional crimes of opportunity to more elaborate schemes involving cyber fraud and sophisticated identity theft. The emergence of organized retail rings with advanced operations is a major factor behind this shift.

The increased reliance on e-commerce creates more opportunities for criminals to exploit vulnerabilities in online marketplaces and booking systems. Additionally, the growing complexity of global supply chains, with multiple handoffs and longer transit times, creates more points of vulnerability for theft. 

At Carrier Assure, we're seeing a large number of claims being submitted daily, and have identified the most common factors faced by our users in 2023 that are contributing to cargo theft: 

  • Shipment Misdirection: Criminals use stolen identities of legitimate carriers and logistics companies to divert shipments to pre-arranged locations for theft. This is the fastest-growing method with a 57% increase compared to the same period last year.
  • Trailer/Container Theft: Stealing entire trailers or containers remains a significant threat, with a 17% increase year-over-year. These are often targeted for their valuable contents.
  • Fictitious Pickups: Criminals pose as legitimate recipients to trick companies into releasing cargo they then steal.  
  • Extortion and Theft by Conversion: Organized criminal groups target logistics brokers, manipulating them into paying extra fees through manufactured reasons.  The complexity of pursuing legal action allows these groups to operate with increased boldness.
  • Burglary of Loaded Conveyance: Breaking into loaded trucks or trailers remains a significant threat, especially for high-value shipments on specific routes. 
  • Cargo Tampering: Criminals may tamper with cargo during transport for various malicious reasons.
  • Facility Break-Ins:  Break-ins at warehouses or storage facilities targeting high-value goods remain a potential vulnerability.

Following this analysis, it's clear that the transportation and logistics industry faces multifaceted challenges in protecting valuable shipments. However, understanding these challenges provides a foundation for implementing effective solutions to safeguard your supply chain. 

Let's explore actionable strategies to enhance security measures throughout the logistics process.

  1. Legislative Efforts:

Collaboration between various stakeholders, including law enforcement, is crucial. Sharing information and fostering partnerships with local and national authorities can significantly impact these criminal activities.

Legislative efforts are underway to combat these crimes. Several states are implementing stricter penalties, particularly for high-value thefts. 

  1. Risk Management and Insurance 

Don’t forget to always carefully review your insurance coverage and consider going beyond standard renewal procedures to identify and address any potential vulnerabilities.

  1. Collaboration with Carriers and Shippers

Open communication and collaboration between all parties in the supply chain are essential. Share information about potential threats and work together to develop comprehensive security plans.

  1. Proactive Vetting Measures

Implement robust security measures throughout your supply chain. This could include installing GPS tracking on trailers, using tamper-evident seals, and employing stricter access controls at warehouses and terminals.

Also, look beyond basic licensing and insurance checks. Consider partnering with a service like Carrier Assure, the first carrier performance scoring software that anticipates how a carrier will handle your goods.  

Carrier Assure goes beyond static data points to analyze a carrier's history, performance trends, and potential risk factors, providing a more comprehensive picture of their reliability.

By following these measures, you can significantly reduce the vulnerability to cargo theft.  Carrier Assure can be a valuable tool in your proactive approach, helping you select reliable carriers with a proven track record of secure transportation.