February 1, 2017 2:00 PM, EST

Cargo Thefts Cost Businesses $114 Million in 2016

Todd Lapin/Flickr

Cargo thefts fell for the third consecutive year in terms of reported incidents, but the value of the stolen goods rose 13.3% to $114 million, according to 2016 data from CargoNet.

There were 1,614 incidents in the United States, including cargo theft, heavy commercial vehicle theft and supply chain fraud. Thieves stole cargo in 836 cases with an average value of the contents at about $207,000, based on the 554 thefts with an assigned value. It represented a 7.7% decline in cases year-over-year and a 10% drop since 2014. The other 282 cases didn’t include a value for the cargo.

However, the total value of the stolen cargo, $114 million, is greater than the $100.5 million in 2015 and $94 million in 2014.

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“The numbers indicate that the police believe in the system and are reporting incidents while also cracking down on cargo theft,” said Anthony Canale, general manager at CargoNet. He warned that the fluctuations in the number of incidents are due, in part, to greater awareness and more reporting to companies such as CargoNet.

The top three states for cargo thefts were California with 228 incidents, Texas with 135 and New Jersey with 73. California and New Jersey are home to the three largest container ports in North America, and Texas is at the center of cross-border freight between Mexico and the United States.

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Food and beverages remain the most common stolen cargo; electronics were second.

“Law enforcement has done an outstanding job responding to strategic cargo theft. But it’s like playing whack-a-mole. Not only will the groups pop up in different areas, but cargo thieves will bob and weave away from where the attention is from the police and private industry,” said Scott Cornell, second vice president and crime and theft specialist for Travelers’ Transportation business.

Daniel Day, director of security and risk management at Kenco Group, told Transport Topics that there were zero cargo thefts at the 90-plus warehouses it operates in the United States. He said some cargo thieves will stake out a warehouse to watch the trucks or find weaknesses in security.

“I’m not saying it hasn’t happened at one of our facilities, but I can tell you we have a robust countersurveillance program in place to spot them,” Day said. “We also have a good relationship with local law enforcement at all of our locations. If something is happening in the area, they’ll tell us and vice versa. Security is about good collaboration and communication.”

Kenco, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ranks No. 25 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies in North America and No. 9 on the sector list of top warehousing firms.