Christmas holiday means increased risk of cargo theft

December 18, 2019

Land Line Staff


With the number of cargo theft incidents and loss values on the rise ahead of the holiday shopping season, one industry group is encouraging the transportation industry to brace for an expected uptick in thefts and loss values.

In winter holidays between 2014 and 2018, the SensiGuard Supply Chain Intelligence Center recorded just under two thefts per day and an average loss value of $207,001. That’s a 20% increase over the rest of the year, the company said in a bulletin to industry professionals issued this week.

“The winter holiday shipping season has historically been one of the most dangerous times for cargo theft,” the bulletin states. “This year, both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day occur on a Wednesday, leaving more opportunity for shipments to be left unattended or parked in unsecured locations for extended periods of time.”

The company says these thefts primarily targeted electronics, for which data show a theft rate 52% more frequent than throughout the rest of the year. The highest average value recorded was within clothing and shoes category, which had an average loss value over the holiday period of almost $1.1 million.

SensiTech also warns to be on the lookout for a spike other types of thefts, including facility thefts and pilferages. Over the previous five holiday periods, facility thefts were reported at a rat 106% higher than the rest of the year, with pilferage reports increasing 25% during the same time period.

The company recommends that logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up-to-date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations. They also recommend drivers confirm a given receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times and planning for secure parking locations in the event a shipment will have to stop for an extended period of time. Covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high-value shipments are also recommended.

Things drivers should consider when selecting a secure area/lot are: controlled access, adequate lighting, congestion, any type of personal or video surveillance, how long the load will be left unattended, as well as past intelligence of localized cargo theft activity.

Other safety recommendations for drivers and motor carriers include:

  • Verify the authenticity of all shipment related activity during these periods – particularly any entity which has been engaged to either move or store a shipment. Driver and business verification, prior to releasing any shipment, is paramount.
  • Communication between drivers and shippers needs to be firmly established and regularly maintained during shipments over these periods.
  • Truck stops, highway rest areas and distribution centers are frequent targets for cargo thieves – not only traditionally but more so over holiday periods. For that reason, any location where cargo would either intentionally or unintentionally come to rest – even for brief periods of time – should be as secure as possible.
  • If a cargo conveyance must be left unattended for any period of time it should be made as secure as possible. Theft-resistant locking/sealing mechanisms for tractors, trailers and cargo compartments; disabling technology for the vehicle’s power units or trailer movements; parking vehicles and/or cargo compartments in a fashion which make access as difficult as possible – are all things worthy of strong consideration.

Notable thefts over holidays 2014-18:

  • 2014, New York, full truckload of computers, $1 million.
  • 2014, New Jersey, fictitious pickup of apparel, $1 million.
  • 2015, Texas, facility theft of tablets, $300,000.
  • 2015, New Jersey, Full Truckload of food and drinks, $255,000
  • 2016, California, Full Truckload of footwear, $4 million.
  • 2016, Tennessee, facility theft of drones.
  • 2017, Wisconsin, facility theft of diapers.
  • 2017, Michigan, full truckload of tires, $250,000.
  • 2018, Delaware, facility theft of smart watches, $100,000.
  • 2018, Florida, full truckload of alcohol, $507,000.