A recent report shows the transportation sector had an estimated 20% increase in reported cargo thefts due to new criminal tactics in 2022. Surprisingly, the largest percentage of this jump came in the fourth quarter alone.
A study conducted by Verisk Analytics’ CargoNet showed supply chain risk events increased by 15% year-over-year to 1,778 throughout the United States and Canada. The estimated total loss value in 2022 was an astounding $223 million.
Keith Lewis, Vice President of operations at CargoNet believes this is a generational change. While trailers are still being stolen, fraud is actually what forced the increase in cargo thefts. The transportation sector saw the number of fraud cases increase from 16 cases in 2021 to 116 in 2022. The process is extremely complicated, with criminals using load boards and unsuspecting drivers. This report also shows events involving theft of at least one heavy commercial vehicle had increased by 17%. Furthermore, there was also an increase in major intermodal hubs thefts. The average value of this cargo was an impressive $214,104.
The process of stealing loads off load boards has been around forever. However, due to new technology, criminals are able to steal more quickly since companies are using machine-to-machine for vetting.
One of the main concerns the report had indicated was supply chain disruptions due to the effect on inflation. This added scarcity and cost drove market demand for goods up. The jump made an impact on many areas, but the computer graphic cards and raw meat in particular.
A major reason for the high frequency of theft is due to strategic theft. Cargo theft is typically categorized into two categories: straight theft and strategic theft. Straight theft is just as it sounds, criminals go out and steal from where it sits. Strategic theft is when the criminals trick suppliers into giving them the cargo. This is done through fake pickups and identity thefts.
Scott Cornell, crime and theft specialist at Travelers, notes that criminals attempt to get loads by posing as a carrier and placing bids on the load boards. He also notes the criminals are calling brokers directly posing as legitimate carriers with available capacity. If the criminals are able to get through the carrier vetting process, they are able to go for multiple loads at a time. Many intermediaries have separation between themselves and their load, by the time they find the load has not been delivered, the trailer could be long gone. While criminals have had success, they do have to move the stolen cargo quickly as it is hard to hide the cargo. Due to the difficulty moving the cargo, law enforcement has had success in finding the stolen product.
Cornell also stated there was a 31% increase in cargo thefts within the fourth quarter. This bump is usually due to the holidays, but last year was much more significant as theft activity entered the new year with even more momentum.
Danny Ramon, intelligence and response manager at Overhaul noted the rise of pilferage. Furthermore, the theft is much more sophisticated as large operations are able to travel multiple states and steal the whole container or truck. Smaller operations are able to steal more cargo now using box trucks. The theft has become increasingly alarming as they can be done in as little as twelve minutes.
California maintains their top position on the list for reported events for 2022, as they saw the theft in the state jump 41% within the year. Computer and green energy items are the most frequently stolen items over the year.
The top items stolen in 2022 were household items, which could include appliances and furniture. Electronics follows household items for 2022, which had decreased from 2021, mostly due to the fact that 2021 saw an unprecedented increase.
While technology has helped create an efficient supply chain within the trucking industry, it has also helped criminals become much more efficient as well. Trucking companies have seen a significant increase in thievery this past year alone. Criminals have become so efficient at completing these operations on trucking industries that they are able to complete a major job in just ten minutes. This rise in crime has made a major impact on the supply chain, which in turn hurts the economy in every faucet. There is hope however that companies and the police force are able to become better at identifying fraudulent companies and stop the attacks before they even happen.