Guarding the Goods: Defending Against the Growing Threat of Cargo Theft

Guarding the Goods: Defending Against the Growing Threat of Cargo Theft
Adaptable and collaborative approaches are key in protecting the supply chain.

The freight industry is facing a surge in cargo theft incidents, with CargoNet reporting a 59% increase in these crimes from 2022 to 2023. With criminals’ tactics growing more sophisticated each year, the industry must rethink security and risk management strategies. On a recent episode of the Stay In Your Lane Podcast from Triple T Transport, a group of professionals from diverse backgrounds in transport gathered to discuss the rising tide of cargo thefts and the steps you should be taking to keep your cargo safe.

“A 59% increase is a staggering amount,” says Triple T Senior Sales executive and podcast host John Mahle. “We need to look at what has changed in our industry in the past five or ten years, because cargo theft was historically an insider type of crime. It was much easier to find the guilty parties and bring them to justice.”

The Changing Landscape of Cargo Theft

  • Motivations and tactics surrounding cargo theft are changing fundamentally, with commonplace crimes of opportunity being replaced with cyber fraud and identity theft tactics.
  • The emergence of retail crime rings with sophisticated operations has been a major driver in the rise of modern cargo theft.

“We are seeing a large number of [cargo theft] claims being submitted,” says Kathy Schricker, VP, Northeast Region at Avalon Risk Management. “In some cases, these are loads that were booked with actual carriers that were intercepted by parties posing as that carrier, in others the loads were booked directly with fictitious companies.”

Is your operation vulnerable to evolving cargo theft tactics? Learn what you need to safeguard your supply chain in the latest episode of the Stay In Your Lane Podcast

Response and Legislative Action

  • Legislative measures imposing harsh penalties on cargo theft are being implemented nationwide.
  • North Carolina has increased penalties for thefts exceeding $100,000 in response to rising cargo thefts incidents in the state.
  • Raising awareness and cultivating partnerships with local and national law enforcement agencies is an important step toward combatting cargo theft and associated criminal activities.

“We represent large and small retailers across the state and have had a longtime focus on retail loss prevention,” says Elizabeth Robinson, Senior VP of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association. “We run an organization called the Carolinas Organized Retail Crime Alliance, which is a partnership between retail loss prevention professionals and law enforcement officers focused on these crimes.”

Challenges and Proactive Measures

  • Challenges persist despite increased law enforcement efforts.
  • Proactive measures like vetting carriers and heightened security protocols are more important than ever.

“We’ve had a number of occurrences [of cargo theft] in recent years. 2023 was certainly the worst,” says Jon Pruitt, Director of Logistics Operations for beverage company Nutrabolt. “We’ve had to take steps to partner with our carriers and shippers.”

Insurance and Risk Management

  • Carefully reviewing insurance coverage and adopting comprehensive risk management strategies is crucial for stakeholders.
  • Don’t wait—insurance review beyond the usual renewal periods will help address any vulnerabilities.

Collaborative Solutions

  • The wave of cargo thefts highlights the need for collaborative efforts between stakeholders and law enforcement.
  • Staying informed, implementing robust security measures, and fostering partnerships can help keep operations avoid the worst outcomes.

Adapting to an Evolving Threat

In light of the evolving nature of cargo theft, adaptable and collaborative approaches are key in protecting the supply chain. As legislative actions and law enforcement efforts adapt to this rising tide, proactive measures and comprehensive risk management strategies are essential.

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