Is theft becoming a supply chain challenge?

"People look for ways to survive"

Is theft becoming a supply chain challenge?


By Daniel Wood

“What we’re seeing more and more of at the moment is increased theft in logistics - it’s starting to come to Australia,” said Daniel Morrison (pictured above), head of NTI‘s marine portfolio.

While skyrocketing costs and scarcity of shipping containers, predominantly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have largely disappeared, Morrison suggested the latest challenge for global supply chains is theft.  

“In the US there’s a big uptick,” he said. “We’ve seen photos on train lines with people breaking on to slow moving trains and just tearing through and finding things that they want - there were boxes everywhere.”

Morrison said the gloomy economic conditions are likely driving this increase.

“People look for ways to survive,” he said. The theft, he said, is linked to the types of commodities being transported.

Tool and toy theft is increasing

According to the database, CargoNet, in 2022 cargo theft increased by 20% across the US and Canada. Household items including furniture and appliances, closely followed by electronics, were the most stolen commodity. “There was also a notable increase in theft of shipments of tools and toys,” said the report.

According to the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA), food and beverages are the commodities that are stolen the most globally.

The article, published in February, said criminal fraud is a growing threat for some transport and logistics insurance businesses. The TAPA article cited criminals posing as subcontractors, including drivers, and using forged documentation.

Small parcel theft

Morrison said, in Australia, there is already an uptick locally of small parcel theft. He said this is a result of the change in what’s called “freight task.”

“All this online shopping means lots of smaller packages being moved around, lots of couriers, lots of deliveries,” said Morrison. “There is evidence of increased theft of smaller parcel deliveries, so something left on your front porch and it gets nicked before you get home.”

The value of goods can go up quickly

He said the economic situation, including inflation’s impact on the cost of goods and rising premiums, are issues that brokers need to focus on.

“From an insurance perspective, the change in values of goods mean brokers have to look at the contract again,” said Morrison. “Are their customers adequately covered? If a shipment was $1 million last year, it’s probably $1.1 million now.”

NTI’s marine head said brokers and their customers should also look at different ways to move goods to save on costs.

Supply chain normality is back

However, despite these challenges, Morrison said, compared to the COVID years, the supply chain situation is essentially back to normal.

“There are always issues that affect national supply but it’s much more situation normal,” he said. “That heavy impact, the global impact, that was feeding its way back into Australian logistics due to COVID, in particular, hasn’t completely disappeared but it’s negligible.”

He said, in Australia’s trucking and logistics space, other issues have taken centre stage: staff shortages, in particular, trained staff.

“On our trucking side of the business there’s regular commentary around a shortage of drivers, particularly experienced drivers, and that brings its own issues because obviously there’s still a freight task that’s required and so logistics companies managing that with a shortage of drivers face a challenge,” said Morrison.

He said finding ways to bring new people into the industry and investing in technology are two ways stakeholders are looking for solutions. “So the challenges don’t go away,” said Morrison.

Supply chain hubs

Ports are the world’s hubs for the trucks, trains and ships carrying the world’s containers. According to Statista, nine of the biggest ports are in Asia, with one in Europe: Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

“In Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand, completely new shipping hubs have emerged,” said the article.

According to Statista, the Port of Los Angeles sees about 7.5 million standard shipping containers per year. Rotterdam deals with about twice LA’s volume. China’s Port of Shanghai processes three times that amount, or 47 million containers.

Shanghai is the largest port in the world. Between January and May this year, according to Port News, Shanghai handled more than 220 million tonnes of cargo, up by 12.5% on the previous year.  

Are you a broker in the transport and logistics space? What are your supply chain challenges? Please tell us below

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