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Stealing the Spotlight: 2015 National Cargo Theft Summit

Having recently partnered with the Midwest Cargo Theft Task Force, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Major Theft Unit and the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force, the third National Cargo Theft Summit in Memphis, Tennessee demonstrated impressive growth and hope.

Electric Guard Dog CEO Jack DeMao with Drew Harden & Oscar Blythe
of the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force

The summit emphasized three tiers of effective cargo crime fighting:

  • Collaboration between peers within the industry and creating lines of communication
  • Heavy focus on layers of security
  • Having a security plan and following that plan rigidly

In terms of collaboration and information sharing, Joe Wehrle, NICB President and CEO, kicked off the summit with some great stats in terms of membership: a 29% increase in new members for 2014 and more in 2015. Equally impressive was the news that Chicago, Illinois and Tampa, Florida are in the process of forming Major Theft Task Forces.

Over the course of two days, experts provided a wealth of information, from global theft trends to popular cargo scams to real life best practices.

Theft by the Numbers

Eric Kready (at right) of FreightWatch International was on hand to provide an update on cargo theft statistics. Globally, the rate at which violence is utilized in cargo theft continues to increase:

  • Targeting of pharmaceuticals is expected to increase.
  • Food leads the world as the commodity with the highest number of thefts.
  • Countries with growing middle-class populations are forecasted to see increases in cargo theft rates.
  • Industry-led initiatives will be the cornerstone of any successful effort to combat cargo security threats.


Cargo Theft Expert J.J. Coughlin with Jack DeMao

While violence is rare in U.S. cargo theft crimes, the U.S. is one of the top five countries in the world most at risk for cargo theft, along with Russia, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.

Here in the U.S., proliferation of the crime is the real problem and, to prove his point, Eric provided some astounding recent stats:

  • The rate of Building & Industrial thefts grew by 200% from Q1-2015 and increased by 20% compared to Q2-2014.
  • Personal Care saw a 412% increase over Q1-2015 as well as a 115% increase over Q2-2014.
  • Food & Drinks saw a 27% increase over Q1-2015 as well as a 30% increase over Q2-2014.
  • Clothing & Shoes saw a 25% increase over Q1-2015 as well as a 322% increase over Q2-2014.

With Fictitious Pick-Ups on the rise, Eric recommended identifying risky loads, maximizing load board tools, verifying insurance and the motor carrier number, interviewing the driver and developing immediate action drills to handle real-life events. He encouraged everyone to Be a harder target than those on your left and right.”

Pilferers Got Game

Scott Cornell of Travelers Insurance stated that “Cargo theft criminals are stealing from your neighbors today and stealing from you tomorrow.” Scott’s focus was the rise in facility and warehouse theft in 2015, while hijacking, driver theft and deceptive pickups are on the decline. Pilferage is a major issue in facility theft and despite the statistics, Cornell believes they outnumber full truckload thefts by as much as 10:1. He also estimated that potentially 60% of crimes take place on the lot, while only 40% occur on the road.

The reason for the discrepancy, he argued, is that pilferage is an underreported crime. On a load traveling across the country, if the driver notices a broken seal only upon arrival, the theft may have occurred in any of 10 different states, rendering it nigh on impossible to report to authorities. Moreover, admitting to the theft makes it more widely known that there are security issues within the freight company, jeopardizing the company’s reputation.

The Cautionary Tales

Jared Palmer (at right) of AFN, a 3rd party logistics provider (3PL), told the story of his company’s lesson when it comes to cargo theft. Eight years ago, AFN lost $1.1 million in 3 months. After installing layers of security, they have occasional thefts, but not losses. He encouraged companies to rate risk and invest accordingly. At AFN, high-value loads are over $100,000 and goods such as almonds and tires are high risk for theft. Tires are so targeted that AFN no longer handles them.

He made the following recommendations:

  • COI’s are useless as they are too easily faked.
  • Use passive monitoring and look for exceptions.
  • Read your insurance carefully, as some require zero exclusions.

When it comes to security choices, Jared provided a nice shoutout about Electric Guard Dog during the presentation, emphasizing how our multilayered security has benefitted AFN’s security strategy — thanks, Jared!

John Tabor of 7P Solutions also highlighted electric security fences in his presentation, and shared his positive experience with Electric Guard Dog.

Law Enforcement Concerns

One of the more sobering presentations was made by Jorge Fonseca of the Illinois State Police, Midwest Cargo Theft Task Force. Fonesca sent a powerful message to private companies about the limited resources law enforcement are facing in investigating property crimes. As key members retire in his region, the funds and positions are being allocated to violent crimes. The Midwest Cargo Theft Unit has dwindled down to only 2 officers, and funding only allows them to work part-time, so they have to rely heavily on the private sector. They are now forced to react to cargo theft instead of being proactive.

Topics: Cargo Theft