US House Committee Prepares for Cargo Theft Fight

Bill Would Direct $2 Million to Establish a Supply Chain Fraud and Theft Task Force
Freight bill
Cargo theft increased 38% year-over-year in Q1. (Wannachai Phonnuan/Getty Images)

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The U.S. House Appropriations Committee called for a new task force to fight cargo thefts in a funding bill report June 3.

The 2025 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill report includes language that would direct $2 million to establish a Supply Chain Fraud and Theft Task Force. The purpose of the task force will be to counter the sharp rise in cargo theft and broader supply chain fraud. This will be included in the nearly $65 billion being proposed for security programs.

“The committee remains concerned with the alarming rise in supply chain fraud and theft through interstate commerce, particularly in the rail, motor carrier and intermodal systems,” the bill said. “In an effort to combat the recent escalation of these illicit activities, the recommendation includes an increase of $2,000,000 above the fiscal year 2024.”

American Trucking Associations has made security one of its top priorities. That encompasses both cargo theft and cyber threats. The inclusion of a task force in the bill was applauded by the organization as well as Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) for championing it.

“The billions of tons of goods transported by trucks to every American community have increasingly become a prime target for organized crime, putting truck drivers at risk and raising costs for consumers,” Henry Hanscom, senior vice president of legislative affairs at ATA, said June 12. “ATA commends the House Appropriations Committee and Congressman Valadao for directing Homeland Security Investigations to leverage its unique cross-border authorities.”

Hanscom is optimistic the provision will strengthen the partnership between the government, law enforcement, motor carriers and their supply chain partners to strike an effective defense. The bill calls for the task force to coordinate with local and federal law enforcement agencies as well as relevant private sector stakeholders.

“The fact that they’re acknowledging the issue and putting forth an effort to try and solve that is obviously a very good sign,” said Danny Ramon, intelligence and response manager at Overhaul. “But it’s also a sign of just how large the issue is. It’s not just third-party security providers out here saying fraud is a problem. The U.S. government is now having to step in and say we’re going to have to take steps to remediate this issue.”

Overhaul recorded 371 cargo theft events across the country during the first quarter. This marked a 38% increase compared with the same time period the year prior. Since there is no requirement to report cargo thefts, the number is likely much higher. The most common type was full truckload theft at 33%. That was followed by facility theft at 27% and pilferages at 25%.

“The biggest takeaway is not just that it’s increasing, but how much it’s increasing by,” Ramon said. “We’re tracking a 38% increase for Q1 of 2024 versus Q1 of 2023. That’s pretty massive when you take into account that 2023 was already an increase over 2022, which was an increase over 2021, all of those record-breaking years. So, the fact is it’s not only continuing to increase, it’s speeding up. It’s gaining momentum, and that’s a very scary thing.”

Overhaul also found that the most targeted type of freight during the first quarter was electronics at 23%. That was followed by home and garden at 17%, miscellaneous at 13% and clothing at 13%. California, Texas and Arizona were identified as having the highest cargo theft incidents.

“What we’re seeing a lot is targeting of household appliances within home and garden,” Ramon said. “We’ve seen that as a new targeted product subtype. It’s high value, it’s easy to move, they’re desirable. But we’re seeing a lot of other things also within home and garden.”

J.J. Keller & Associates announced June 4 that it is offering a free resource outlining best practices for choosing seals for various types of cargo to prevent thefts and tampering. It’s the latest in a growing number of private companies looking to tackle the issue. Truckstop launched a campaign last year aimed at fighting cargo thefts through the sharing of information.

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