As cargo theft increases nationally, Los Angeles law enforcement has asked for help concerning a series of regional cargo thefts.
On Nov. 3, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Commercial Crimes Division/ Cargo-Hijack Detectives announced it was seeking assistance locating or identifying individuals responsible for San Fernando Valley cargo thefts.
That day, detectives discovered a warehouse containing stolen cargo of consumer goods in the Sun Valley area of the Foothill Division. Detectives arrested a man for the thefts and other suspects were questioned and released.
They also arrested four men in a related case in the Foothill area with a stolen load of cosmetics on Oct. 18. Detectives believe the cases are related and those involved are responsible in at least 19 thefts where truck and trailers have been stolen since July.
They have asked anyone with information about these thefts to call (213) 485-2509 or during non-business hours, (877) LAPD-24-7. Anonymous tips may be made to Crimestoppers at (800) 222-8477 or by texting to phone number 274637 using a cell phone. Text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters can also click on “webtips” at www.LAPDOnline.org.
New Jersey-based Verisk Analytics has said that member company CargoNet, a cargo theft prevention and recovery service, has assisted California law enforcement in recovering more than $1 million in stolen cargo.
On Oct. 30, CargoNet learned a load of televisions had been stolen and informed the California Cargo Theft Interdiction Program. It provided further intelligence to CTIP and acted as liaison between the theft victim and the program, it reported.
CTIP agents then conducted targeted surveillance within an area containing 140 potential storage locations and recovered the televisions as well as stolen property from seven other thefts.
Since its creation in 1994, the program has recovered more than $237.6 million in stolen property, 5,500 vehicles, 1,850 cargo loads and made more 1,100 arrests.
Organizations including the American Trucking Associations, California Trucking Association and National Cargo and Security Council have formed an alliance to mitigate the problem. Transportation company security directors and law enforcement also have monthly meetings on the issue.
In Southern California, cargo thefts via armed hijackings and terminal robberies have increased during the last five years, CTIP stated.
One hijacking method occurs when a trucker stops, whether at a traffic light or for a meal break. Gunmen enter the cab, steal the load and eventually set the driver free. Another method is to have an attractive female tell the trucker something is wrong with his truck and when he inspects the vehicle, her accomplice steals the tractor-trailer.
For the first time this year, the National Retail Federation’s annual Organized Retail Crime survey asked merchants about existing threats before the merchandise hits the shelves. The results, released last June, indicated half of retailers have experienced cargo theft in the past 12 months. Most thefts occur from the distribution center to the store, but nearly 40 percent of incidents take place between the manufacturer and the distribution center and other points along the supply chain.
In 2005, Congress passed a law directing the FBI to begin collecting cargo theft data in its Uniform Crime Reporting program the agency started in 1930. Last year, the agency began accepting test data on this crime category.
The FBI also has partnered with other law enforcement agencies to mitigate cargo theft, including the Memphis Cargo Task Force, which targets criminals preying on trucking and transport companies using the region’s major highways.