Reporting cargo theft — balancing act in more ways than one…

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Updated Sep 1, 2010

Truckersnewscargo Theft IssueTune in Wednesday at 8 p.m. Eastern for the Truth About Trucking online radio program with host Allen Smith. My fellow Truckers News/Overdrive Senior Editor Max Kvidera and I will be guests on the subject of cargo theft, the topic of note in the latest, September edition of Truckers News, out now in digital format and hitting the truckstop racks as we speak. Cargo theft has risen sharply in recent years, some now referring to it as the early 21st century’s “signature crime,” for several reasons. Not least among them is the fact that in many cases the crime carries a light penalty — investigators I talked to in the process of reporting my part of the story, to which nearly all of the Truckers News editorial team contributed in some way, noted some perpetrators walking away from thefts of cargo worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with no more than a $2,000 fine and 2 years’ probation.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report only recently included “cargo theft” as a standard category, and with no federal minimum sentencing guidelines and no stiff move toward implementing the cargo theft UCR down the chain from federal to state and local jurisdictions, tracking the full scope of the problem is difficult, to say nothing of actually investigating the crimes. State cargo theft units and multijurisdictional task forces balance the need for speedy information gathering in reactive theft investigations with a more proactive approach, spending much of their time networking with industry and insurance contacts to help both in preventive measures.

Similarly, perhaps, reporting on the problem — and its potential solutions — led us to time spent with insurance investigators, federal, state and local police, individual truck drivers and owner-operators, carrier representatives, locking device manufacturers, data analysts, elected representatives and more. The result, hopefully, is a clear picture of what we’re up against in organized cargo theft rings, as well as what you can do in concert with law enforcement and carrier reps to combat the problem. Join us on the Truth About Trucking show Wednesday for a further look behind the magazine’s pages.

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Also, several preventive measures are detailed in the three videos that follow here, shot on location with three of my primary sources for the story, FBI Special Agent Torrence White of the Memphis Cargo Theft Task Force, Scott Cornell of Travelers Investigative Services’ Specialty Investigations Group and Charlie Coe, a colleague of Cornell’s and formerly with the New Jersey State Police Cargo Theft Unit.

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