6 Methods Used By Criminals to Carry Out Cargo Theft

Cargo theft is the illegal act of stealing from commercial shipments, which can include goods, money and other various items. These items can be stolen from transportation systems such as railroad cars, trucks, boats or planes. These crimes occur during the transportation of cargo, between the point of origin and the intended destination. Cargo theft commonly takes place at locations such as storage facilities, warehouses and distribution centers.

It is often assumed that criminals are opportunistic with their cargo theft methods. However, criminals are becoming more resourceful, strategic, and are planning out crimes in advance. Like modern technology, thieves are smarter than ever and traditional security measures will no longer protect a commercial business.  Discussed below are the findings of the BSI and TT 2020 Cargo Theft Report.

Here are the Six Most-Common Cargo Theft Methods:

1. Leakage Operations: Leakage is a term for when criminals slowly and expertly take goods from shipments. The goal of a leakage operation is for businesses to not notice that anything is missing. This may seem small, but over time leakage will lead to large losses. Not to mention that once criminals know a company is an easy target, they will not stop taking advantage.

2. Fictitious Truck Drivers & Pickups: This cargo theft method requires a criminal impersonating a driver who is authorized to pick up cargo. Once cargo is passed off to the wrong person, it is nearly impossible to recover. This method can involve false paperwork or employees not following protocol to ensure that a driver is who they say they are.

3. Truck Burglaries/Hijackings: This cargo theft term is when a driver takes a break, leaving the truck unattended, and a thief steals the entire truck full of goods. This can be opportunistic, or a truck can be tracked from its departure point and robbed at its first stop. Therefore, it is recommended that trucks do not stop for the first 200 miles or four hours of their starting point.

4. False Emergencies /Coerced Stops: A false emergency can be carried out by warning a driver of a false issue with their vehicle. If the driver stops to see what is wrong, thieves will steal the cargo or the whole truck. This situation can be very dangerous for the driver as well as cause large losses for the company. Drivers are encouraged to check their trucks for issues before departure and not stop for any unplanned reason unless information is coming from a trusted source.

5. Commercial Burglaries: This type of cargo theft occurs at a location where a truck or its cargo is stored. Common locations for a commercial burglary are truck yards, commercial facilities, businesses near railroads and more. Commercial properties are popular sites for criminals to take advantage of because cargo is sitting unattended. This type of cargo theft can easily be prevented by improving security at a commercial site.

6. Driver Involvement: Unfortunately, some cargo theft is due to an inside job. This can mean a staged hijacking or a driver simply turning over cargo to a fellow criminal. Many times, drivers are given a substantial cash payment to pretend to be robbed. This can be avoided by vetting employees and assuring that they are trustworthy before being trusted with valuable cargo.


Top Two Targets for Thieves:

1. Trucks are a major target for criminals. In fact, trucks account for 87% of cargo theft. When drivers stop at a truck stop or warehouse, goods are vulnerable, and security is limited. Many times, thieves will lurk at these locations and wait for a truck to be unattended. Thieves are known to track trucks from their starting point and wait for the driver to pull over in order to steal goods.

2. Commercial Facilities can be used to store valuable goods. Commercial yards with assets stored outdoors are vulnerable targets for thieves. A commercial property with weak security gives thieves an opening to come in and steal cargo. Commercial facilities account for 10% of cargo theft but this can be prevented by installing a layered, integrated security system.

Top Three Goods Most-Commonly Stolen

1. Food and Beverage: 28% of cargo theft can be attributed to theft of food and beverages. This category is an easy target because a large volume of food is transported across the country every day and is not heavily secured. There is a large market for food sales and thieves will profit from this.

2. Electronics: 13% of cargo theft is of electronics, a consistent favorite of criminals. Electronics are coveted by thieves because they are small, easy to conceal and highly in demand, especially during the holiday season.

3. Alcohol & Tobacco: 10% of cargo theft is theft of alcohol and tobacco. This category is like food and beverages because it is also transported constantly and in large volumes. Alcohol and tobacco are also in high demand in the markets where criminals sell goods and therefore easy to unload.


Cargo Theft in the Supply Chain

Supply chains are known for being efficient and there are many moving parts working together to ensure that the correct goods are delivered on time all over the world. Unfortunately, there are many places in the supply chain that are vulnerable for criminals to target. These locations need extra security measures as they store valuable goods and are often at risk.

  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Loading Docks
  • Rail Stations
  • Distribution Organizations

The Ultimate Perimeter Solution

AMAROK is the ultimate perimeter security solution because it deters thieves, so there is no need to deal with the aftermath of a crime. AMAROK deters criminals in three ways; a shock deterrent, physical deterrent and alarm deterrent. Installing the Electric Guard Dog system is an effective way to prevent cargo theft at your business.