Cargo Theft Surges in the United States and Canada: A Growing Menace in 2023

Rising Theft Incidents and Ingenious Tactics Threaten Supply Chain Security

Green-go Trucker 26/10/2023 MATTHEW GOSSETT (The Green-Go Trucker)
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In a troubling trend, cargo theft has seen a significant upswing in the United States and Canada during the second quarter of 2023, as per data reported by CargoNet and Overhaul. The numbers reveal a disturbing 57% year-over-year increase in cargo theft incidents, resulting in losses exceeding $44 million in stolen goods. These thefts cut across various sectors, from electronics and food to construction materials. The most vulnerable states included California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.

CargoNet, a reputable cargo theft tracking service, reported a staggering 566 incidents in the United States and 16 in Canada. The scale of these thefts underscores the audacity of the criminals involved. Overhaul, a logistics software company, corroborated these findings with its data, which revealed 123 cargo thefts in the same period, marking a 15% year-over-year increase. The geographical hotspots for these thefts often revolved around freight hubs and major urban centers, with California and Georgia topping the list of high-risk states.

Digging deeper into the statistics, the average loss per cargo theft incident has surged to $428,409, a substantial 55% increase compared to the first quarter of the year. These figures serve as a stark reminder of the economic repercussions of cargo theft on businesses and the wider economy.

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Both CargoNet and Overhaul were unanimous in their observation that cargo thefts were primarily concentrated near warehouses, distribution centers, unsecured parking lots, and company truck yards. The thieves targeted various types of cargo, from full truckloads to smaller pilferage. Disturbingly, full truckload thefts experienced a 17% year-over-year increase. Another alarming trend was the rise in fictitious pickups orchestrated by cargo thieves.

Beyond the statistics, certain states like Georgia, Kentucky, and Indiana witnessed an alarming surge in cargo theft incidents, with home and garden products and food and beverage goods emerging as the most commonly stolen items. Cargo criminals increasingly focused on valuable loads with high resale potential, including electronics, home and garden goods, and auto parts. The stolen merchandise frequently found its way to online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, enabling thieves to engage directly with consumers.

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Perhaps most audacious of all, some cargo thieves devised strategic heists, where they stole entire tractor-trailers filled with goods, fraudulently had them delivered to Amazon warehouses, and then proceeded to sell the stolen merchandise on Amazon's platform. This disturbing tactic highlights the evolving challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in combating cargo theft in the digital age.

The surge in cargo theft incidents serves as a stark warning to the supply chain industry and law enforcement agencies. As criminals become increasingly sophisticated, securing the nation's cargo is a pressing concern. Companies, along with state and federal agencies, must collaborate to develop robust security measures and employ advanced technologies to thwart these thieves and safeguard the vital flow of goods across North America.


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