Food and beverages were the main targets of cargo theft around the world in 2018, according to a report by BSI and TT Club.
The report found that South America had the largest median theft value at $77,000 followed by Europe ($59,866); North America ($58,500); Africa ($40,000); and Asia ($18,923). Cargo theft was more likely to happen in India (59%) than any other country followed by China (24%).
Food and beverages accounted for 19% of all stolen cargo globally followed by alcohol and tobacco (15%); consumer products (15%); electronics (7%); apparel and footwear (5%); and 14 other types of commodities (39%).
Fifteen cargo thefts happen every day around the world with 84% of all thefts happening off a truck.
Food and beverages accounted for 30% of all cargo thefts in Asia followed by metal (14%); electronics (8%); construction materials (8%); consumer products (6%); and other goods (34%).
“A significant portion of incidents involve thieves stealing goods directly from facilities in each of these countries. Supply chain corruption is a major element of thefts in China and India, with corrupt employees removing goods they are transporting or accessing shipments stored in warehouses or logistics facilities,” read the report.
In Europe, the United Kingdom had the highest number of cargo thefts (86%) followed by Germany (4%); Italy (3%); Russia (1%); France (1%); and others (5%). The majority of thefts were alcohol and tobacco (21%); consumer products (15%); food and beverage (10%); apparel and footwear (7%); electronics (6%); and other (19%).
The main driver for cargo theft in Europe is the lack of secure parking for cargo trucks. Regulations that limit the length that cargo truck drivers can operate before taking a mandatory break also exacerbated the lack of secure parking and often forced drivers to stop in vulnerable locations.
Trucks were mainly targeted in Europe with slash and grab tactics.
“The high number of unsecured vehicles available for targeting helps explain the low number of facility thefts that BSI records in Europe. It is easier for thieves to target an unsecured cargo truck than it is to infiltrate and steal goods from often more-secured warehouses and other facilities. Furthermore, many parking sites in Europe lack security features to deter thieves from conducting thefts,” stated the report.
Middle East and Africa
“Unlike other regions in the world, BSI and TT Club most commonly recorded cargo truck hijackings as the primary type of theft in the Middle East and Africa. Poor security enforcement in most countries, combined with the widespread presence of weapons, enables thieves to conduct violent cargo truck hijackings with relative impunity,” read the report.
The majority of all thefts happened in Egypt (31%) and South Africa (31%). The report states that the supply chain is easily corrupted by government officials who set-up check points where bribes are demanded. As well, corrupt police officers facilitate cargo theft by allowing thieves to impersonate them in order to carry out cargo hijackings.
About 43% of all cargo thefts in these regions are hijackings followed by theft from a facility (23%).
The primary cargo stolen in Africa and the Middle East are food and beverage (35%); consumer products (10%); alcohol and tobacco (8%); construction materials (8%); electronics (8%); metal (8%); and other goods (23%).
North America
Two types of cargo theft are found in North America: violent hijackings and theft of unattended trucks. The majority of cargo thefts happen in Mexico (68%) followed by the United States (23%) and Canada (4%). Hijackings were more common in Mexico and very rare in Canada and the U.S., where theft off a truck was more common.
The majority of thefts (33%) involved food and beverage followed by consumer products (19%); construction materials (9%); electronics (6%); alcohol and tobacco (5%); manufacturing materials (5%); pharmaceuticals (5%); and other goods (18%).
South America
No other region in the world suffers more from hijackings than South America, according to the report. It found that 52% of all cargo thefts are hijackings. Of all thefts on the continent, 68% occur in Brazil followed by Argentina (14%); Chile (8%); and Peru (4%).
“(Brazil) continues to suffer from the highest rate of cargo truck hijackings in the world, with annual incident numbers totalling in the tens of thousands,” read the report. “One likely factor that explains the high rate of cargo theft in Brazil is the entrance of major gangs into the country’s illegal drug trade and their need to finance such ventures.”
The majority of cargo stolen in food and beverage (35%); consumer products (15%); electronics (12%); alcohol and tobacco (11%); fossil fuel (6%); automotive (6%); other goods (14%).

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