CargoNet warns the industry of ongoing extremely high cargo theft activity, saying it will worsen as thieves eye unattended trucks and closed warehouses during the winter holiday season.
In the past five years alone, 205 theft incidents with an average value of more than $121,000 were reported to CargoNet just between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2. The total loss value is estimated at more than $7.5 million.
The number of incidents increased progressively each year. In 2022, there were 56 incidents reported in these 10 days.
While thieves have been mostly stealing unattended vehicles and shipments parked at major retail parking lots and truck stops, fictitious pickups have become a favored form of theft over the last year, CargoNet says.
Incidents at warehouses or distribution centers were common as well, as these are target locations for fictitious pickup scams.
While most of cargo theft in the U.S. happens in California, which is joined by Texas in the list of top three target states for the winter holidays, as 18% of incidents have occurred in each state. Georgia comes in third, accounting for 23 events in the last five years.
But cargo theft is on the sharp rise in other states, too.
Incidents in Florida, for example, tripled from 2021 to 2022. Pennsylvania has also seen an increase from no thefts reported in 2021 to five reported last year. Illinois and Tennessee are also cargo theft hotspots with consistent year-over-year incident ratings.
Commodities at risk
While thieves pick and choose their preferred cargo based on the consumer demand of the season, commodities such as household goods (including cleaning supplies and furniture), food, beverages and electronics remain the most targeted.
Cargo thieves still prefer shipments of energy drinks, sodas, liquor, hard seltzers, motor oils, tires, and solar panels, CargoNet says, adding that in recent months a wider range of commodities has been targeted. This includes shipments of footwear, clothing, beauty products, ATVs, and construction equipment.
The noteworthy thefts from the previous holiday season include:
- $507,105 theft of tequila from Tampa, Florida
- $500,000 theft of footwear from Douglasville, Georgia
- $440,000 theft of apparel and home products from Union City, California
- $400,000 theft of mattresses from Columbia, Maryland
- $318,759 theft of laptops from Livermore, California
The organization calls on the industry to report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement and contact CargoNet afterward when there are no immediate threats to life or property.
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