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Cargo crime on Europe’s roads continues to soar, growing by 10.3% in Q3, according to new data from the Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA).

The association’s Incident Information Service (IIS) recorded 238 cargo crime incidents in the three months to 30 September 2015, including €1.4m of postage stamps stolen from a warehouse in Ile-de-France, near Paris and €635,000-worth of cosmetics and fragrances from a truck parked overnight in Rugby, UK.

And it is the increasing appetite for goods carried in freight vehicles which is worrying cargo security experts.

Thorsten Neumann, TAPA EMEA chairman, told The Loadstar that criminals were expanding activity in the supply chain because of lower risks associated with it compared with other types of crime.

“We have seen that high-value cargo had a tremendous risk attached to it, but now we are seeing that criminals are going after everything – we seeing a large increase in attacks against the food chain, for example.”

He explained that, previously, much freight crime was conducted on an opportunistic basis – slashing open a curtainsided trailer while the driver slept, for example, whereas more recent incidents demonstrated a much higher degree of planning.

“Organised criminals are becoming more and more involved because the risks are lower compared with the drug trade, but similar in terms of the profits they can make.

“A euro-pallet of high-value goods is worth a lot of money: one pallet of smartphones is the equivalent in value to a luxury sports car, and that is how the criminals see it.”

A secondary problem is the ease with which stolen goods can be resold, he said.

“The black market for goods is very big because the world has got so much smaller – cargo crime is not regional anymore. Yen years ago, organised crime would attack a truck in the UK and then sell those goods in the UK. Now they can sell them all over the world – they have their own supply chain and it is very low-risk for them; minimal compared with the drug trade.”

Meanwhile, average losses are also increasing, in part due to criminals’ ability to corrupt freight and distribution workers.

“Criminals are clearly planning in advance what and where they will strike,” said Mr Neumann. “They know what goods are in transit, and we estimate that roughly 70% of cargo crime is linked to insider knowledge.

“Corruption is a big thing in the supply chain. People can generate 10 years’ pay by helping to arrange one theft – and at the same time criminals are trying to place their own people in the supply chain,” he said.

Assessing the extent of the cargo crime problem is difficult, mostly due to the vagueness of the data and the fact that fright crime is not a category in its own right. However, security company Freight Watch International recently estimated that in 2013 cargo crime in Europe amounted to as much as €11.3bn, and said that this figure would have risen “significantly” this year.

In September, TAPA launched a global certification campaign to get more logistics service providers and transport companies to adopt its Facility Security Requirements (FSRs) and Trucking Security Requirements (TSRs).

These include the introduction of a new entry-level and training enabling companies to self-certify to TAPA’s FSR Level C and TSR Level 3 to make warehouse and trucking operations more secure and compliant with TAPA’s industry standards.

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