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July 1, 2021 5:15 PM, EDT

Fourth of July Poses Increased Risk for Cargo Thefts

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The Fourth of July holiday weekend could see an increase in cargo thefts based on trends of past years, according to theft prevention and recovery service CargoNet.

CargoNet works in partnership with carriers, law enforcement and insurance agencies.

“Cargo thieves will seek to exploit extended business closures this upcoming holiday to steal more cargo,” an advisory from the organization said. “In previous years, household goods and food and beverage items were the most commonly targeted commodities. This would include items like appliances, toys, alcoholic beverages and seafood.”

CargoNet theft data from July 1-7 for the previous five years shows 127 events, or an average of 25 per year. The average stolen shipment was worth $145,699 per event.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages and price inflation of specific goods and we think the items most affected, like computer electronics, are the items most at risk this holiday,” the advisory said.

Total Quality Logistics (which partners with CargoNet) uses computer systems to spot irregularities in its supply chain that may include potential thefts and notifies customers of issues.

“Here’s the situation: The holidays are always an opportune time for cargo thieves because of the fact that law enforcement is busy,” Total Quality Logistics President Kerry Byrne told Transport Topics. “There’s so much going on, for one. Two, there are shippers and receivers and yards, where the staffing is low. Especially this year.”

The July Fourth spike last year is consistent with elevated theft levels reported since the onset of the coronavirus. CargoNet found total theft events in 2020 increased 26% to 1,502 — the highest since 2016 — compared with 1,106 in 2019. Times of severe economic stress or natural disasters often result in an increase.

“With this consumer-driven economy, there is just so much freight on the road,” Byrne said. “There may not be enough staff and security personnel at the various shippers, receivers and yards.”

He said the common types of cargo thefts involve a criminal just spotting an opportunity. But he warned there are also the more planned incidences such as someone posing as a driver who is picking up a shipment.

“It’s basically identity theft,” Byrne said. “We’re concerned about those fictitious pickups where somebody fraudulently positions themselves as either a customer or a carrier. Because everyone is so busy and capacity is so hard to find, there is perhaps that opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. So, we’re on high alert.”

Loadsure, a technology-based trucking insurance company, is also anticipating a spike in cargo thefts during the July Fourth weekend. Ahead of that, the company announced updates to its smart cargo insurance platform.

“The economy is beginning to reopen, and highly targeted freight, like food and beverage, is moving in volume for the first time since 2019,” Loadsure CEO Johnny McCord said in a statement. “Leveraging AI and automation, brokers, shippers and carriers can now expand coverage for these high-value loads and protect commonly excluded specialty freight on the fly, all through direct platform access, custom integrations or third-party platforms.”

Loadsure expanded its platform to include higher limits of up to $2 million in coverage for any single mode of transport and broader commodities coverage.

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