Cargo theft numbers high in 2013, threat level remains high, FreightWatch says

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Updated Mar 6, 2014
From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)

The number of cargo thefts recorded in 2013 tied 2012’s all-time high of 951, according to an annual report released by FreightWatch International this week, who also said in the report that better organization and innovation by thieves continues to push the threat of cargo theft higher.

An average of 79.25 cargo thefts occurred each month in the U.S. — 2.6 per day. of the 951 total thefts in 2013, 692 were full-truckload or container thefts, FreightWatch reported, and 65 were less-than-truckload thefts.

Thefts of pharmaceuticals and food/drink loads (excluding acohol) each saw big increases in the year, with pharmaceutical load thefts rising 50 percent and food/drink load thefts climbing 34 percent.

Particularly, stolen loads of nuts; seafood; candy, cookies and snacks; dairy and eggs; and meat all more than doubled from 2012, spiking 117 percent, 142 percent, 150 percent and 237 percent, respectively.

Food loads generally have lower security, FreightWatch says, which accounts for some of the uptick, as thieves target the easier-to-nab food/drink loads rather than the harder to obtain electronics loads.

From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)

Food/drink loads in the year accounted for 27 percent of all thefts, followed by electronics loads at 14 percent and home/garden and metal loads at 10 percent each.

Of stolen electronics loads, televisions and projects were the most targeted, making up 35 percent of stolen loads. Mixed and miscellaneous loads accounted for 17 percent, a desktop computers accounted for 11 percent. Loads of cell phones and accessories were 7 percent.

Theft of vehicle and load made up 73 percent of all reported thefts in the year, with theft from trailer or container was the second most common type, and deceptive pickup — a form of identity theft — was the third most common type of theft, with 61 incidents in the year.

The average value per stolen load did fall slightly in 2013, down 2 percent to $171,000.

From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)From FreightWatch International (click to enlarge)

Of all loads stolen, loads of electronics led the way in average value per stolen load at $397,000. Stolen loads of alcohol/tobacco ranked second $280,000, followed by clothing/shoes, $272,000.

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Cargo theft activity hit highs in June and September of last year, but the last quarter of the year was, per trend, the most concentrated of the year.

Nearly half of the thefts occurred on Fridays and Saturdays.

California, far and away, had the most thefts in 2013, 259, followed by Texas with 123. Florida, Georgia and Illinois rounded out the top five with 113, 71 and 70, respectively.