6 Methods Used By Criminals to Carry Out Cargo Theft

Table of Contents:

What is Cargo Theft?

1. Straight Cargo Theft

Straight cargo theft is a major threat to commercial businesses such as recycling plants, truck yards, and warehouses. This type of cargo theft is defined as cargo being stolen from where it is sitting and usually targets products that can quickly be sold on the market. Unattended items on commercial properties are often a target for straight cargo theft because they are readily available and can be profitable for thieves.

Electric fencing is a great solution for straight cargo theft because it includes a physical deterrent, a shock deterrent, and an alarm deterrent. Deterring criminals from entering the property in the first place is beneficial in preventing straight cargo theft because it eliminates opportunistic situations for thieves who are looking for an easy payday.

2. Strategic Cargo Theft

Unlike straight cargo theft, strategic theft is more calculated and complicated. This involves deceiving people at various points in the supply chain into turning cargo over to the wrong individuals. Using a fake ID or a fake business to trick carriers, brokers and shippers are common practice used by commercial burglars to attain costly cargo. Attempting these fictitious pick-ups close to deadlines allows thieves to profit from time constraints and employee errors.

perimeter security solution with video surveillance can be used to identify commercial burglars in the event of a strategic cargo theft at a business. Holding on to video footage allows a company to review how the criminal got away with commercial robbery to prevent it the next time.

It is often assumed that criminals are opportunistic with their cargo theft methods. However, criminals are becoming more resourceful and strategic, and they 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, many places in the supply chain 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

When is Cargo Theft Most Likely to Occur?

Labor Day through Christmas is the peak season for cargo theft in the retail and shipping industries. Stores are fully stocked and merchandise is moving in high volumes. While consumers are counting on massive savings, thieves are cashing in on opportunities to strike trailers and shipments left unattended over the holiday weekends and weeks leading up to Black Friday. And let’s not forget Cyber Monday. Last November saw a 37% increase in cargo theft volume from November 2016 and a 101% increase in the average value loss per theft.

Trucking and logistics companies, warehouses and distribution centers — be wary. Protect your property from theft with a durable and reliable high-security electric fencing and perimeter alarm system from AMAROK.

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, a physical deterrent, and an alarm deterrent. Installing the Electric Guard Dog system is an effective way to prevent cargo theft at your business. Contact us today.