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Loss Prevention

Wanted: Cargo Theft Details

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C argo theft and recover organization CargoNet is focusing on improved reporting by victims of cargo theft as a critical step toward greater understanding of what is being stolen, where and by whom.

CargoNet’s “2011 United States Cargo Theft Report,” released in March, is based on 1,215 reported incidents of cargo theft.

“The industry has always known it has to do better at sharing [crime] data and catching criminals by identifying their theft patterns and sharing that information with law enforcement,” says David Shillingford, president of Verisk Crime Analytics, which along with the National Insurance Crime Bureau formed CargoNet in 2009. “Putting more data into the system is hugely valuable to the industry. The key is progress in improved reporting, and the entire system is moving in the right direction.”

Report highlights
With 304 incidents, California reported the most cargo thefts during 2011, followed by Texas (173), Florida (146) and New Jersey (130).
It appears that long weekends are prime time for cargo theft: Trailers left parked in facility lots on Friday afternoon can provide cargo thieves with lots of planning time before loads are missed the following Monday.

Of the 13 locations where cargo thefts occur most often, the list is topped by truck stops, warehouses/distribution centers, parking lots and carrier/terminal lots.

The list of commodities preferred by cargo thieves is topped by electronics (47 percent) and followed by apparel (11 percent) and food (10 percent).

Based on two years of reporting statistics, CargoNet has determined that thieves are more likely to use the U.S. highway network to avoid pursuit. The load is often transported to a southern port, where stolen cargo is shipped to South America. Cargo theft is more likely to occur in a highly populated area, where thieves can use gray and black markets to offload stolen goods, including perishables and branded apparel.

Contingency plans
In addition to prompt reporting of cargo thefts, Shillingford says Cargo-Net encourages its members to create a planning process that allows them to incorporate security considerations in key decisions, such as route planning.

A second step in this planning process deals directly with the driver, the motor carrier and driver protocols. “Is the driver making good decisions, and is there interaction between the retailer and the people moving the merchandise?” Shillingford asks. “A third step is the use of GPS solutions, on the cab and embedded in the load.”

CargoNet also encourages its members to have a protocol in place if something goes wrong. “For those who say, ‘We haven’t had a theft,’ that’s a bad answer,” he says.

In addition to CargoNet’s direct links to Verisk Analytics and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Shillingford cites the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network (LERPnet), a coordinated effort by the retail industry and the FBI that allows retailers to share information with each other and law enforcement to deal with organized retail crime, burglaries, robberies, counterfeiting, online auction fraud and cargo theft. Participating members, in addition to the FBI, are NRF and the Food Marketing Institute.