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2017 saw record-low cargo theft numbers, report says

While California remains the top state for cargo thefts across the U.S., the state saw a 32 percent decline in thefts in 2017 when compared to 2016. Overall, 2017 was one of the safest years in terms of cargo theft since CargoNet began recording data.

Cargo theft recording firm CargoNet reports 2017 was one of the safest years in terms of cargo theft and other theft incidents since the firm began recording the incidents.

A total of 741 cargo thefts were reported to the firm last year in the U.S. and Canada with an average value loss of $196,109. The number of cargo thefts in 2017 was 12 percent lower than in 2016. The firm also recorded another 1,479 stolen tractors, trailers or intermodal chassis and containers during the year.

CargoNet attributes much of the decline to successful law enforcement investigations the year prior, 2016. California, where the firm says successful law enforcement investigations had the biggest impact, saw a 32 percent decrease in cargo theft in 2017 when compared to 2016. In New Jersey, where New Jersey State Police has specialized cargo theft units, cargo theft incidents were down 13 percent year-over-year.

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Food and beverage items were the most commonly stolen in 2017, representing 22 percent of all cargo thefts, CargoNet reports. Meat products and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were the most-stolen in this category.

The firm also reports Fridays were the most common days for thefts to occur, with 19 percent of all thefts during the year. Saturdays had 17 percent of thefts, while Sundays had 16 percent. In 37 percent of cargo theft cases, the loads were left unattended for multiple days, making them easier targets, the firm says. Additionally, these loads had no electronic tracking, witnesses or surveillance to determine the exact day of the loss.

Additionally, warehouses and fenced yards were the highest-targeted locations for cargo thefts. The firm says it doesn’t believe fenced yards are specifically targeted, but many yards in cargo theft hot spots, such as industrial areas of large metropolitan areas, are fenced.


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Matt Cole is an Associate Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at