TT Club, the specialist transport and logistics insurer, has said that cargo theft has accounted for a tenth of claims that it has dealt with in the last decade.
Writing on the insurer’s website, Mike Yarwood, a senior loss prevention executive at TT Club, said that while there are some geographical hot spots were cargo theft occurred, the problem was a global phenomenon and one which has yet to be overcome in any part of the world.
Yarwood said that it was notable that theft hot spots were not restricted to areas suffering economic down turns as affluent regions where high value consumer goods are destined were equally susceptible to theft.
Just eight commodity groups account for 60% of cargo thefts: Electronics (17%); food & drink (14.81%); clothing (10.13%); metals (5.59%); machinery (5.26%); cosmetics (4.18%); chemicals/ oils (1.59%); minerals (1.17%); and medicine (0.99%).
TT Club data analysis has identified discernible patterns which show the most popular times to steal cargo.
Theft incidents are more frequent between Monday and Friday, with Thursday showing as the most vulnerable day of the week. The occurrence of theft will be influenced by factors such as peaks and troughs in freight movement, including ship calls in certain ports. In terms of average value, Sundays indicate a more targeted approach, while Friday thefts are the most lucrative.
Yarwood also pointed out that there are elevated volumes of cargo thefts on key traffic routes from the major import ports and terminals.
“It is perhaps inevitable that a disproportionate amount of cargo will be transported along a limited range of routes from port facilities into the hinterland,” he wrote.
“The road infrastructure that is developed to support this flow of traffic through to main cities and motorway networks often serves as a bottle neck and there is rarely sufficient availability of secure parking to satisfy demand. For the criminal organisations this provides an obvious feeding ground. While rail and inland waterway movements are less prone to theft, they are not exempt.”
He added that the ingenuity of organisations involved in cargo theft should not be underestimated.
“A report from the Dutch authorities in July noted the arrest of a Romanian group suspected of stealing cargo from moving trucks by matching the trucks speed and positioning their vehicle in the trucks’ blind spot before gaining access to the cargo through the back doors of the trailer whilst still in motion,” he said.
“Considering the volume of cargo often stolen, one question which plagues operators and insurers alike is; where does the stolen cargo actually go?
“Frequently such cargo is understood to be re-exported and shipped to various regional markets in reduced quantities to lower suspicions and avoid detection. Whichever method is selected, it is evident that criminal organisations are adept at moving stolen cargo through the supply chain almost as efficiently as professional logisticians are able to move legitimate goods,” added Yarwood.