A newly published report shows that cargo theft costs companies millions of dollars in revenue and might be on the rise in Canada.

Compiling data from law enforcement reports across the country and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and other cargo authorities, Northbridge Insurance’s Canadian Cargo Theft Trends: What’s new, what’s now, and what’s on the horizon, shows an increase in reported cargo thefts.

“We’re seeing an increase in reporting to IBC every year since the program’s inception,” stated IBC investigator Wayne Hummel. “As more law enforcement and insurers have become aware of the program, the number of reports has risen to 1,600 as of the end of the third quarter of 2018 – that’s nearly as many as we saw in all of 2017.”

According to Turner, the first half of 2018 saw reported cargo thefts of C$27 million, on course to top 2017’s reported losses of C$46 million and 2016’s C$42 million. Canada experiences the same underreporting problems as the United States, but is not enjoying improved statistics according to Turner.

Between January 2017 and September 2018, mixed load cargo was at the top of the list of stolen products. The reason for this, according to the report, is due to the fact that these loads can be broken down and separated quickly, which makes it easier for thieves to sell off items.

Other stolen goods come from grocery and food and metals and alloys.

About 78% of all reported cargo thefts happen in Ontario, mainly in the Toronto, Brampton, and Mississauga areas as they’re major transport hubs with a network of connecting highways and shipyards.

Not only are mixed load cargos targeted but so too are Less-Than-Truckloads (LTL) due to a “somewhat lax security and opportunities for quicker fencing.”

“LTL shipments are often less closely guarded, and since drivers may make multiple stops, these loads can be more vulnerable to theft while they travel between point A and point B,” stated the report.

Quebec followed Ontario in the number of thefts reported (10%) followed by Alberta (10%); and B.C. (1%) and Saskatchewan (1%). There was no data for Manitoba, the East Coast, and the territories.

Cargo theft in the U.S., is mainly centered on food, beverages, and electronics. The average loss value per incident was $254,800. Interestingly, reported cargo thefts declined 22% in the first quarter of 2018 in the U.S. when compared to the same time last year, according to LPM Insider. The FBI reports that less than 20% of stolen cargo is ever recovered.

“Cargo theft statistics vary, but it is generally agreed upon that cargo theft is a $15 to $30 billion-dollar problem each year in the United States. Exact numbers are impossible to determine in that many cargo crime incidents go unreported, and the numbers related to those incidents that are reported differ greatly by agency,” stated Bill Turner, founder of the Loss Prevention Foundation, in an article in LPM.

Some reasons given for the decline are the adoption of team driving, better locks, wider use of GPS tracking devices, and a number of law enforcement agencies that have formed cargo theft task forces.

While numbers in the U.S. seem to be on the decline, in Canada, cargo thefts are still on the rise, which could be due to an increase in reporting incidents of theft.

While cargo thieves don’t typically operate like traditional organized crime groups in that they don’t have a distinct leader and there is no territory, they do however have deep knowledge of the supply chain and they have an organized network of accomplices to fulfill certain tasks, such as driving a tractor-trailer or how to unload goods quickly.

Cargo crime is often linked to other criminal activities from drugs and money laundering to terrorist funding.

Ways criminals find targets include yard shopping, where yards are scanned for high-value materials that are easy to steal; stealing not only the cargo in a truck but the truck itself; and breaking into online brokerage sites and stealing information to forge documents to pick-up shipments.

Ways to prevent theft include securing the load in the truck with locks, implementing CCTV system in the yard, security patrols, using a team when driving in order to never leave a shipment alone, and implement internal security measures to prevent theft from within.

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