Increasingly violent criminals are now targeting all types of cargo, including low-value shipments, in a new trend, Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) reported this morning.

The average loss in 2015 in the EMEA region was €101,256 – but only 22.5% of reported incidents had a loss value. The majority of cargo crimes comprised theft from vehicles at unsecured parking spots, including motorway service stations and lay-bys.

“The real trend we are seeing is that cargo thieves are now prepared to target virtually any product,” said Thorsten Neumann, chairman of TAPA EMEA.

When TAPA first launched 15 years ago, cargo crime was focused on high-value technology products, he explained.

“It is still a target – but now, so is everything else,” he said.

“Products with a low unit value can be just as attractive because of the high volumes moved. And these products are often easier to dispose of and harder to trace. They include food and drink, cigarettes, cosmetics and hygiene products, clothing and footwear.”

Pharma continues to be a majorattraction for thieves: the largest single reported loss last year was from a warehouse in Milan, from where €3m of pharmaceuticals were stolen. Another 70 reported incidents featured loss values of more than €100,000.

Mr Neumann warned that tviolent crime was on the increase, particularly where drivers are threatened with guns or knives – some have even been kidnapped while many have ended up in hospital. The result could be an even greater shortage of drivers, he said.

“Drivers are generally an ageing population and there are already warnings of the long-term impact on industry if the current level of people leaving the industry and not being replaced continues. This is largely to do with pay and conditions and the fact that younger people do not see driving as a desirably occupation. If, however, they feel their personal safety is at risk too, even fewer will choose driving as a career.

Better news for the industry lies in the greater reporting of cargo crimes,  and better working relationships with law enforcement agencies. TAPA saw a 37.4% increase in reported thefts in 2015, at 1,515 incidents – which TAPA suspects is a low percentage of overall crime.

“Freight thefts are recorded by law enforcement agencies only as commercial property or vehicle crimes, so it is difficult to extract the data that specifically relates to supply chain losses. However, this is changing and in 2015 we received a record number of intelligence updates from police authorities, which is extremely encouraging.

“This is enabling us to build an increasingly accurate picture of cargo crime in our region.”

Thorsten Neumann

Thorsten Neumann

Mr Neumann warned shippers and logistics companies not to assume that a low level of reported crime in a country means a low level of risk – it is more likely that companies do not share information in those countries.

TAPA noted that support from law enforcement agencies had improved the security situation in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.  Once crimes are reported – and understood – they are easier to combat.

“By having a better understanding of where cargo crimes occur, the types of incidents taking place and the modus operandi of cargo thieves, TAPA EMEA members can increase the security of their supply chains. Ultimately that means less crime,” said Mr Neumann.

The combined loss of valued cargo in 2015 was €34.5m. TAPA recorded cargo crimes in 29 countries across the EMEA region, with five countries seeing incidents involving product losses of more than €1 million.

“Using intelligence to combat cargo crime is not just about protecting goods owned by major global corporations, it is also about protecting the wellbeing of people working in the supply chain that we rely on to deliver our goods,” added Mr Neumann.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.
  • Darren

    June 09, 2016 at 9:42 am

    i personally have never had a load stolen, but I have had curtains slashed. One of my friends who carries the same type of cargo as me( usually insulation) had thieves trying to steal a pallet of glass wool, but after unsuccessfully trying, they gave up, and left him a parting gift by pulling the kingpin handle.