The risk of cargo theft has long troubled global supply chains, causing disruption, unpredictability and economic loss

11 Aug 2022

By Jennifer Chang      Photo : Timelab Pro


The risk of cargo theft has long troubled global supply chains, causing disruption, unpredictability and economic loss. This phenomenon leads to multi-faceted consequences; in addition to the immediate economic loss, there are hidden and more serious consequences related to the market and brand reputation, from which no stakeholder is immune. In addition, the proceeds of some cargo theft often finance other illicit trade, so it has an immeasurable social cost.


While there is a risk of theft with any shipment, in general, targeted commodities are concentrated in food and beverages, alcohol and tobacco, and consumer goods, accounting for 49% of all stolen goods globally. Electronics and clothing, with 12% each, make up the top 5 theft targets. During severe outbreaks, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is often the target of theft.  Although  consumer goods, fuel and food topped the list, Part of the reason is almost certainly due to quick dumping.  In Europe, more than 75% of cargo thefts have been reported to occur in transit; 50% of all reported losses are "snatch by force". This reflects the lack of secure parking facilities in Europe as a whole, and the lack of enforcement against this crime. In Asia, China and India are the countries with the most frequently recorded cargo theft. The Middle East and Africa region is threatened with violent hijackings. Goods in transit are often targeted by criminals, such as impersonating law enforcement officers and forcing drivers to stop on the side of the road.


In some areas, thieves have changed their crime tactics because of COVID-19 restraining orders. Restrictions on transportation cause fixed locations (warehouses or yards) to be more frequently targeted by theft. Stealing cargo from a trailer in transit turns into stealing the entire trailer and its contents. The outbreak has threatened the security, sustainability and resilience of supply chains. This not only creates disruptions in the flow of trade between supply and demand, but also creates difficulties for the logistics infrastructure in efficiently handling and clearing shipments. These issues are compounded by absenteeism and lack of labor, adapting processes to disjointed job sites, maintaining necessary social distancing, and in many cases using additional storage facilities. The curse of cargo theft continues to afflict stakeholders in the supply chain, and analysis of these events, protocols for sharing more and more databases, collaboration, and widespread dissemination of findings can help. for us to guard against these potential risks.

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