What's fuelling cargo crime worldwide?

Incidents of stolen food, beverages surge

What's fuelling cargo crime worldwide?

Motor & Fleet

By Kenneth Araullo

The Annual Cargo Theft Report 2023, published by TT Club and BSI SCREEN Intelligence, highlights high inflation as a significant economic factor influencing patterns of cargo crime.

This year’s report notes a particular increase in theft of food and beverages, including alcohol, which now constitutes 24% of global cargo thefts, up from 16% the previous year.

Key findings from the report reveal that most cargo thefts occur during road transport, accounting for 71% of incidents. That said, theft from facilities has decreased from 30% to 23%.

The report also reveals the countries most affected, including Mexico, the USA, South Africa, Germany, and Italy. While electronics accounted for 9% of incidents, the financial impact remains substantial due to the high value of goods.

Regional variations in the methods of cargo theft were also noted, such as the use of fake police stops, known as “blue light crime” in South Africa, and “insider activity” leading to thefts in Asian countries.

Tony Pelli, practice director at BSI, emphasized the broader implications of cargo theft and how it causes companies problems beyond the billions of dollars stolen.

“Cargo theft is a problem that costs companies tens of billions of dollars each year and can cause significant disruption to important supply chains, from pharmaceutical products to semiconductors,” Pelli said. “Having accurate and up-to-date intelligence is the first step in combatting this problem and pinpointing the locations and types of theft that are most likely to harm global supply chains.”

Mike Yarwood, TT’s managing director for loss prevention, explained the company’s approach to these issues.

“In identifying shifting crime patterns in terms of new fraudulent methodologies and a focus on both historic and current geographic risk, we seek to assist operators in tightening their security processes,” he said.

Yarwood also highlighted the report’s utility in offering actionable intelligence and recommendations for mitigating risks, such as increased olive oil thefts in Southern Europe following poor harvests and rising oil values, and various fraud tactics used in Europe and the USA.

“Our combined experience as insurance provider and supply chain intelligence gatherer is invaluable, not just recording the details of crime but also in recommending practical actions and process design suggestions that will strengthen supply chain organizations in their fight against the threat of theft,” he said.

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