Thieves are looking to liberate your cargo this Independence Day

June 30, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


With the holiday weekend upon us – and the Fourth of July just around the corner – the risk of cargo theft is on the rise.

According to Overhaul – an Austin, Texas-based supply chain risk management company – cargo theft rates see a 17% spike during the Independence Day holidays, with losses reaching nearly $2.5 million.

The reason behind the increase in theft is fairly simple and comes down to opportunity. Danny Ramon leads Overhaul’s Intelligence and Response Team. He says that on his side of the logistics table, “cargo at rest is cargo at risk” is the mantra.

“Professional cargo thieves – the guys who wake up every day just to steal cargo – they’re very risk averse, so they don’t like to make contact with the driver, warehouse personnel or anything like that,” Ramon told Land Line. “So when the shipment is stationary and unattended, that’s when they like to strike. They know that over holiday weekends – or any kind of long weekend – there’s going to be an excess of shipments staged outside of their delivery location.”

Ramon says that having the Monday in between the holiday could make things worse, with some shipping and receiving facilities being closed for four days. He adds that carriers should confirm hours of operation for any place they are “delivering to or staging at.”

According to Overhaul’s 2022 Annual Report, the company recorded a total of 1,090 cargo thefts throughout the United States last year, just shy of three cases per day. The average value of those thefts was $361,986.

“These criminals are going to continue to do what works for them until it no longer works,” Ramon said. “The unfortunate thing about it is – while we have seen a lot of the higher targeted, more in-demand, more cost-dense products have tightened their security and guarding against these types of things – there’s always going to be low hanging fruit. There’s always going to be cargo out there that’s not being properly guarded, that’s not being properly watched, and that’s going to go missing.”

Data from Overhaul shows that around 47% of thefts occurred between midnight and 6 a.m. in 2022. Ramon says the most commonly targeted loads include: electronics, solar panels and solar installation equipment, alcoholic beverages, high-end clothing and footwear.

When it comes to prevention, Ramon says the easiest way to safeguard against theft is to minimize the amount of time the freight is stationary. Additionally, drivers should never leave their truck running when stopped and should only stop in well-lit and -trafficked areas where the truck and trailer are visible.

“If at all possible, back up to a hard surface so there’s no access to the trailer doors,” Ramon said. “And if that’s not possible, make sure your trailer doors are in view of at least other drivers, if not CCTV cameras or any potential guard shack that there may be on location. Just have that security mindset, you know. It’s really about not being the low-hanging fruit.” LL

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