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Thieves stole cargo, equipment worth $531 million since 2019 in Canada – Truck News

Over the last five years, thefts of trucks, trailers, and cargo loads in Canada have totaled over $531 million in value. Of this, over $239 million is still unrecovered. This is according to the cargo and heavy equipment theft trend report published by Équité Association, Canada’s national authority on insurance crime.

“Cargo theft is an invisible property crime with a significant impact on our economy and public safety,” said Bryan Gast, vice president of investigative services, Équité Association, in a news release. Insurance and transportation industries, along with the consumers, suffer the consequences of such thefts, paying for increased premiums and higher prices of goods. The health and safety of the general public is also at risk, with perishable goods being stolen, stored incorrectly and placed back on store shelves for purchase, according to the report.

Close-up of sealed metal shipping container, hanging open lock after burglary
(Photo: iStock)

In 2022, truck, trailer, and cargo load theft reached its highest point since 2019, with an unrecovered theft value of $134.8 million. Last year, there was a 30% decrease in thefts.

Équité attributes that to the introduction of the special dedicated cargo theft units in Ontario’s law enforcement, as well as the fact that thrives mostly focused on auto thefts in 2023. Next year, however, Équité predicts thieves will return to high activity in the heavy-duty sector.

Cargo theft trends

Just over half of the cargo loads (together with the vehicles transporting it, such as semi-trucks and trailers) stolen between 2019 and 2023 wer recovered. Trucks account for the highest recoveries of all (56%), estimated at $180 million in value.

Meanwhile, cargo loads account for approximately 10% of total recoveries but 19% of overall recovery value. An average value per cargo load recovery is estimated at $114,000.

“There is a vast underground market and cargo loads move quickly, which makes it difficult to recover. Notably, perishable goods have the ability to be moved overnight or the next day,” the report reads. “The theft of perishable goods can be dangerous to the end consumer due to the potential contamination risks involved.”

Of uncovered cargo loads, $53 million worth of goods were from the top three categories by value: mixed loads, with numerous different items inside, at 29.3%; electronics and grocery at 11.18% and 9.18%, respectively.

So far, the biggest hotspots for cargo theft are Ontario and Quebec, with Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Toronto, and Montreal at the top of the list.

Heavy-duty equipment theft

However, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto lead the list of key heavy equipment theft hotspots.

Over the past five years, $124.6 million in heavy equipment was stolen, including machines used in construction, roadwork and farm equipment. The average recovery rate of this theft category is just under 24%.

Unlike cargo theft, heavy equipment thefts increased in 2023 due to the supply and demand of machinery. The most common piece of heavy equipment stolen is the skid steer and mini excavator.

“Increased construction work after the COVID-19 crisis resulted in machinery shortages in certain areas. Thieves capitalized on the need for heavy equipment, which caused a rise in thefts to support the demand,” the repost said.


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