Rise in Cargo Theft Across US and Canada in 2022

Cargo theft recording firm, CargoNet, recorded 1,778 supply chain risk events in the United States and Canada in 2022, marking a 15% increase over 2021. The company’s data showed that events that involved the theft of heavy commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks and semi-trailers, rose by 17% YoY, while events that involved the theft of cargo increased by 20% YoY. It is worth noting that a single event record could involve theft of one or more vehicles or shipments. The average value of cargo stolen per event was recorded to be $214,104, with CargoNet estimating that $223 million worth of cargo was stolen across all events in 2022.

Supply chain disruptions emerged as one of the key concerns of the year due to their impact on inflation. The scarcity and cost of goods fueled the illicit market demand for items such as computer graphics cards and raw beef, poultry, and pork. Although available capacity improved in the latter months of 2022, theft remained a persistent threat.

The data revealed that theft activity around major intermodal hubs was significant, with California being the state with the highest number of reported events, and theft in the state rose by 41% YoY. California is also a major logistics hub for computer and green energy components, which were among the most frequently stolen items of the year. Meanwhile, theft in Georgia rose by 34% YoY due to organized crime groups taking advantage of increased traffic to the Port of Savannah.

CargoNet also found that household items, such as appliances and furniture, were the most stolen commodity in 2022, followed by electronics. Although theft of computer electronics decreased by 37% from 2021, the theft of televisions and other displays nearly doubled from 2021.

CargoNet warns that the transportation industry must take steps to mitigate the threat of fictitious cargo pickups, a blend of identity theft and cargo theft that can affect all parties in a supply chain. The firm recorded 96 more fictitious pickups in 2022 compared to the previous year, marking a 600% YoY increase. Shipments of solar modules, auto parts, and vehicle maintenance products such as engine oil are among the most at-risk, although the threat extends to most categories of goods.

Motor carriers can prevent fictitious cargo pickups by being cautious of new customers who offer payment through peer-to-peer money transfer apps, especially if they involve hauling a blind shipment to an address different from the bill of lading, especially if the address is a public warehouse or cross-dock in California. Brokers and shippers can also help prevent this type of theft by verifying bids on shipments with the motor carrier through their contact information on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and ensuring that the name of the motor carrier and driver match the shipment tendered to.

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