CargoNet, a service for theft prevention and recovery that collaborates with insurance companies, law enforcement offices, and motor carriers, predicted a sharp increase in cargo thefts that would take place over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“Cargo thieves will seek to exploit extended business closures this upcoming holiday to steal more cargo” said the company ahead of Independence Day. “In previous years, household goods and food and beverage items were the most commonly targeted commodities. This would include items like appliances, toys, alcoholic beverages and seafood.”
According to CargoNet’s data regarding these kinds of thefts between July 1st and July 7th over the past five years, there were 127 incidents of cargo theft in that specific time frame–coming out to around 25 cargo thefts a year during the holiday. On average, carriers lost around $145,699 in stolen goods when they were the target of these particular crimes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages and price inflation of specific goods, and we think the items most affected–like computer electronics–are the items most at risk this holiday,” explained a CargoNet advisory professional.
In order to find discrepancies in supply chain data (that could include thefts), Total Quality Logistics works alongside CargoNet by utilizing certain computer programs that are able to identify these irregularities and alert customers when needed.
“Here’s the situation: The holidays are always an opportune time for cargo thieves because of the fact that law enforcement is busy,” explained Kerry Byrne, President of Total Quality Logistics. “There’s so much going on, for one. Two, there are shippers and receivers and yards where the staffing is low–especially this year.”
In relation to COVID-19’s effects on the economy and on theft levels, CargoNet discovered that the overall number of thefts occurring in 2020 rose by 26% from 2019–reaching 1,502 thefts, the highest number since 2016. These numbers are in correlation with the financial issues many people face in times of economic strife, as we have seen throughout the pandemic.
“With this consumer-driven economy, there is just so much freight on the road,” added Byrne. “There may not be enough staff and security personnel at the various shippers, receivers, and yards.”
In fact, because so many groups have seen this year’s thefts coming for so long, they began warning the public.
“CargoNet is extending warnings about significant theft risk to freight for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday,” said CargoNet in a tweet. “Cargo thieves will seek to exploit extended business closures this upcoming holiday to steal more cargo.”
Tech-based trucking insurance company Loadsure also warned people publicly.
“Ah, the 4th of July weekend,” the company tweeted. “Burgers on the grill. Frosty beverages. Sparklers. Cargo theft. Are you ready?”
According to Byrne, all it takes is one criminal finding an opportunity for cargo theft and taking advantage of it, although there are still many organized theft incidents that take place, as well. Sometimes, a thief will even pretend to be working as a trucker picking up a load.
“It’s basically identity theft,” said Byrne. “We’re concerned about those fictitious pickups where somebody fraudulently positions themselves as either a customer or a carrier. Because everyone is so busy and capacity is so hard to find, there is perhaps that opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. So, we’re on high alert.”
Loadsure also recently announced that it would be boosting its smart cargo insurance platform to add higher insurance coverage for all methods of transportation–up to $2 million, to be exact.
“The economy is beginning to reopen, and highly-targeted freight, like food and beverage, is moving in volume for the first time since 2019,” said the company’s CEO, Johnny McCord. “[By] leveraging AI and automation, brokers, shippers, and carriers can now expand coverage for these high-value loads and protect commonly excluded specialty freight on the fly, all through direct platform access, custom integrations, or third-party platforms.”