JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The proliferation of cargo theft crime across the United States and Canada represents a significant threat to the transportation and insurance industries, as well as the public. Holiday weekends pose a higher threat because truckers will park their trucks, and warehouses will be shut for an extended period of time. CargoNet issues its advisory about cargo theft surrounding the upcoming Labor Day holiday to raise awareness and prevent victimization.
CargoNet examined seven days of data preceding and following Labor Day 2012 to 2016 for this advisory. In that period, 121 cargo thefts were recorded across the United States and Canada. Cargo theft events were highest in 2012, with 30 reported cargo thefts and gradually decreased each year to 16 reported events in 2016. In total, $16.8 million in cargo was stolen in this analysis period — including a single $5.7 million shipment of high-end smartphones that were stolen in transit between Delaware and Washington in 2015. The average recorded event was worth $218,133.
Labor Day itself had the highest amount of cargo theft only in 2016. In previous years, the days leading up to Labor Day had higher volumes of cargo theft than Labor Day. We also note that, in some cases, the cargo was unattended for many days, and there was no evidence to pinpoint what day the theft occurred. In those cases, the theft was assumed to have occurred on the first possible day.
Cargo theft in this analysis period was highest in California, with 32 reported thefts, followed by New Jersey, with 16 reported thefts, and Texas, with 15 reported thefts. Cargo theft was also common in Florida (nine thefts), Georgia (eight thefts), and Illinois (seven thefts). Nine of the reported 121 cargo thefts were fictitious pickup events, though we note that no fictitious pickups were reported in 2015 or 2016. Warehouse locations had the most reported cargo thefts, with 27 thefts. Warehouses were followed by parking lot locations, like those of major retailers, and truck stops, with 21 and 16 thefts, respectively.
Food and beverage products, overall, were the most stolen. However, this is due to a spike of 12 cargo thefts in Labor Day Weekend 2013. Electronics and household items were the most commonly stolen commodity in recent years, and for Labor Day Weekend 2016, electronics thefts spiked when cargo thieves stole five truckloads of high value consumer electronics like laptops, televisions, and audio equipment.
In summary, holiday weekends provide thieves with ample opportunity to commit cargo theft because a higher amount of trucks and cargo warehouses will be unattended. The transportation industry should take extra precaution to secure facilities and cargo in transit to mitigate theft, especially for the targeted commodities and geographic areas mentioned in this advisory.
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Noteworthy thefts from previous Labor Day weekends
- $5,700,000 in cell phones from a warehouse in New Castle, Delaware
- $1,500,000 in airsoft equipment from a warehouse in Irwindale, California
- $1,300,000 in silver from a port in Montreal, Quebec
- $800,000 in cell phones from a truck stop in Jackson, Tennessee
- $560,000 in laptops from a secured yard in Ontario, California