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According to experts, the trucking industry has seen a surge in freight theft since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Keith Lewis, vice president of operations for cargo net anti-theft and collection services, told Transport Topics that “it started to surge in the second quarter of last year.” It went on throughout the year. In my opinion, this year is still premature, but almost midway, and my prediction is that we’re about to start it, and the industry begins to normalize. I really want that.
CargoNet reported a total of 1,502 theft cases in 2020. This was 1,106 in 2019 and 1,181 in 2018. These numbers include the theft of both cargo and vehicles. Freight-specific thefts totaled 1,059 in 2020, compared to 758 in 2019 and 797 in 2018.
Cargo theft includes the total number of cargo thefts, including the theft of the cargo alone, as well as the case where the cargo and the vehicle are stolen together. The vehicle theft category has a similar structure, but is unique to the total number of stolen vehicles. The total theft event category includes everything reported, but counts as one event if the truck and cargo are stolen together. This duplication is why there are 1,502 reported cargo theft cases less than in the two separate categories. CargoNet data is voluntarily reported by businesses, law enforcement agencies, and other sources and used by various groups. For example, Travelers Cos. uses information from the research department and CargoNet data to monitor theft.
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“Most of the thefts involved both cargo and vehicles,” Scott Cornell, Vice President of Transport and Crime at Travelers, told TT. “There was definitely a big leap in 2020 and it started to fall from the fourth quarter to the first quarter of 2021. This is not surprising. It’s almost as expected.”
Cornell emphasized that theft activity has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, but said the number has improved. He said in the first quarter of 2021 that he was 321 at the same time last year. He said 289 thefts were reported compared to the cases.
Some of last year’s activities were unique to the pandemic itself.
“In the United States, criminals targeted the shipment of medical and household items, resulting in a 25% increase in truck-filled theft in 2020,” Scott Martino, director of supply chain intelligence at Sensitech, told TT. “U.S. theft also increased by 35% as organized criminals targeted cargo in rest areas and storage areas. This indicates that the economic-market balance is particularly relevant to illegal markets. It’s a very clear example. “
Theft of the perfect combination of tractor and trailer is often done to reach the cargo and is usually carried out by organized crime groups.
“These organized groups are strategically located in the United States,” Lewis said. “They are stealing tractor trailers for what’s on the trailer. Usually they move within about 30 miles, drop the tractor somewhere, continue the trailer with their tractor, and cross-dock. And go to fencing. Operation. “
Cornell said theft tends to increase during times of economic turmoil.
“Returning to 2008, when the recession was seen, cargo theft increased significantly,” he said. “And there was a change in what was stolen.”
Cornell pointed out that before 2008, many thieves targeted luxury goods such as electronic devices, but by 2010, when the United States was in recession, food and beverages had become the top stolen goods. This change was initially due to financial reasons, but as evidence was consumed, criminals knew that these were products that could be safely stolen. However, last year, household goods took the lead.
“The thing that household items give us an advantage in terms of recovery is that they don’t go away,” Cornell said. “But it’s not as traceable as electronics, so it was a big change.”
Another big change last year was that Texas overtook California to become the number one cargo theft, he said. Cornell held California at the top for decades. He said this change was important because it was. In both states, cargo thefts will increase in 2020. In Texas, there was a bigger increase.
The coronavirus pandemic was not the only issue that affected the theft in 2020. The weather also affected the crime rate.
“When we see catastrophic storms, floods, hurricanes, etc., theft around them is increasing. Building materials, household goods, food and beverages are likely to be stolen,” Cornell said.
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