Dwindling Resources

| April 07, 2005

Schneider National’s loss prevention cargo security manager, Joe Kizaur, says the FBI is still involved but its focus has had to change. “The FBI has had to refocus its primary concern – of course, that’s anti-terrorism,” Kizaur says. “They’re still concerned about trucks. But because of the work they’re doing on that, there are fewer of them available for cargo theft.”

Hot Spots

States:
New York/New Jersey
Ohio
California
Tennessee
Arkansas
Mississippi
Virginia
North and South Carolina
Georgia
Florida

Cities:
Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland)
Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach
Chicago
Memphis
Atlanta
Miami
New York City

John Iannarelli, a special agent with the FBI’s Washington, D.C. office, says the agents who investigate crimes like cargo theft haven’t necessarily been shifted to homeland security efforts, but may have additional duties, like investigating bank robberies and kidnappings. “We still have a variety of crimes we have to respond to and we do. If a crime’s committed, and there’s federal jurisdiction, we’ll respond.”

Local and state law enforcement resources have also been diverted. The Los Angeles County sheriff disbanded the Cargo CATS, one of the most successful task forces to ever fight cargo theft, and a model for other task forces, because of budget shortfalls and politics. It took three months for trucking companies, shippers and manufacturers to convince him to restart the unit.

In Florida, officials say thefts of loaded trailers average more than 20 a month. In Los Angeles, police estimate $600 million a year – $2 million a day – is nabbed by industrious thieves.

Geographically, it appears the problem is expanding. Where gangs once concentrated on trucks near major ports like Long Beach, New York/New Jersey or Miami, they now do more inland business. That means law enforcement can claim a partial victory – the gangs are spreading from South Florida and California because task forces and stings are scaring them off. Unfortunately, when the criminals move up to places like Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and Little Rock, law enforcement officials are less prepared to handle the crimes.

Increasingly fleets will have to turn to more aggressive security measures to keep their freight from falling into the wrong hands, and they will have to use private security services to track down the freight they lose, Danbee’s Brandman says.

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