JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Drivers should be on high alert this week, and should never leave cargo unattended. The risk of cargo theft is expected to soar over the Thanksgiving holiday, particularly in major metropolitan areas across the South.
CargoNet is warning supply chain professionals that the threat is “extremely high,” according to a news release. “CargoNet has been tracking a sharp increase in theft reports since November 2022.”
Since then, the average number of theft reports filed per week has increased to an average of 51 events per week, a 64% increase when compared to historical data between January 2012 and October 2022.
The problem only appears to be escalating, according to CargoNet officials.
In Memphis, Tennessee, recently, a FedEx tractor-trailer was blocked by several cars at an intersection before dozens of people pillaged the back of the truck for packages, leaving boxes discarded all over the road. Three arrests have been made.
And in Philadelphia, four people are facing federal charges in the theft of 2 million dimes from a big rig.
Between Oct. 1, 2023 and Nov. 11, 2023, CargoNet has recorded an average of 66 reports per week, a 113% increase from the average number of reports per week between January 2012 and October 2022.
CargoNet has recorded 433 new theft events since October 2023, a 101% increase year-over-year.
Strategic cargo thefts or fictitious pickups and identity fraud reports made up 35% of reported crimes in this time period. A total of 56% of strategic cargo thefts took place in California. Strategic cargo thefts happened across the state but were most frequent in the counties of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, motor oils, auto parts, apparel, solar energy generation items and nutritional supplements were the most frequently stolen goods in strategic cargo thefts.
Organized crime groups perpetrating these crimes seek to obtain a load tender by:
- Outright impersonating a legitimate motor carrier.
- Using an authority they have registered or have been given access to.
- Deceiving a motor carrier into giving them the credentials to vital accounts.
“CargoNet is aware of a recent wave of strategic cargo thefts in which criminals represented themselves as an outsourced dispatch service,” the news release stated. “They were hired by multiple motor carriers and gained access to their emails, load board accounts and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) accounts to effectively “hijack” the authority and use it to get load tenders and steal truckload shipments.”
CargoNet officials said that the criminals appeared to be legitimate representatives of the motor carriers to their victims because they were communicating via official accounts. Logistics brokers should be on alert for these strategies this upcoming holiday. If a load tender is emailed to a potential cargo thief, it is imperative to change the pickup information with the shipper to prevent theft of the shipment.
Since October 2023, CargoNet has noted an increase in theft of unattended, loaded conveyances across the United States. Unattended freight is at high risk this holiday because of the likelihood it will be left unattended and unmonitored for several days before a driver returns to complete delivery. Truckload theft rings have focused on shipments of major appliances, small appliances, non-alcoholic beverages, ATVs, and construction equipment.
Thefts have been especially common in the following areas:
- Dallas-Fort Worth, particularly along South Freeway at the Interstate 20 and Interstate 35W intersections in Fort Worth.
- Atlanta Metro area, particularly around Tucker and Stone Mountain and South Fulton, Fairburn and Palmetto.
- Florida in major freight hubs like Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
Southern California, especially in San Bernardino County and Riverside County.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.