Cargo theft incidents drop, value rises as food, home loads remain hot targets

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Cargo theft hot spots from the first quarter of 2014. (Map from FreightWatch International)Cargo theft hot spots from the first quarter of 2014. (Map from FreightWatch International)

In the first three months of the year, 206 cargo thefts were reported in the U.S. with an average value per load of $207,982, according to FreightWatch International’s quarterly theft report.

That number is a 4.9 percent decline from the same quarter of last year, but thefts are still being reported for the quarter, FreightWatch says, and the number could grow.

Given the drop in instances, the average value per stolen load shot up nearly 40 percent, which FreightWatch says is an indication of “continued persistence and increasing sophistication of organized cargo criminals.”

Loads of food and drink (excluding alcohol) again were the most common type of load stolen, accounting for 21 percent (44 loads) of the thefts.

Home and garden loads surged to second most in the quarter with 15 percent (31 thefts), and loads of electronics accounted for 13 percent (27 thefts).

Targeted loads in the food and drink category included candy, produce, flavored waters and soda, FreightWatch says, while home and garden loads included appliances, furniture and home decor. Stolen loads of electronics were mostly TVs and computer components, FreightWatch report says.

Loads of metal made up 13 percent, too, and clothing/shoes loads made up 10 percent, building/industrial loads 9 percent and auto/parts loads 7 percent. Alcohol and tobacco loads made up 4 percent, while pharmaceuticals made up 2 percent.

California again had the most cargo thefts, with 56 — 27 percent of the total. Florida had the second most, 42 (20 percent) and Georgia had the third most, 23 (11.2 percent).

Texas had 22 thefts (10.7 percent) and Illinois had 15 thefts (7.3 percent).

Those top five states accounted for 76 percent of all of the cargo thefts nationwide in the quarter.

Theft of trailer or container overwhelmingly held the top spot on the “type of cargo theft event” with 176 thefts, 85 percent. The second highest, theft from trailer or container, accounted for 10 thefts, or 5 percent. Deceptive pickups, a form of identity theft, ranked third with 9 thefts, 4 percent. Driver theft incidents accounted for 2 percent.

Clothing/shoes loads had the highest average loss of the stolen loads, with $943,699, which FreightWatch says is due to brand-name shoe brand loads valued at more than $1 million.

Electronics loads had the second highest per-loss average, $421,008, followed by alcohol/tobacco with $204,065. Food and drink loads had an average loss of $60,101.

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