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Supply chain congestion increases chances of cargo theft, says new report

A new report of 2021 global cargo published by the American Journal of Transportation has found shift in emphasis from the risk of in-transit, vehicle- based attacks to losses while cargo is at-rest.

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The report states that widespread congestion at ports and inland facilities lead to increased opportunity for thieves during the period.

Some of the key takeaways from the American Journal of Transportation document are as follows:

  • Globally cargo thefts from or of vehicles in-transit declined as incidents at storage facilities rose to nearly 30%
  • In North America prevalence of port congestion and railhead delays seen as crucial factor
  • Idle times in European locations also augmented theft and stowaway risk
  • Strict Covid-19 protocols at Asian ports, particularly in China created delays and backlogs leading to theft opportunities
  • Increased influence of insider infiltration into operator organisations such as haulage companies and warehousing facilities
  • Adoption by criminals of new technology- assisted by increased digitalisation of supply chain processes and communication

The annual report is based on recent incident data for the whole of 2021 collated from sources including law enforcement agencies, governments and trade associations.

In this last reporting period, the American Journal of Transportation explains that input from the Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region has also helped to significantly increase the level of intelligence in these territories.

“Constant vigilance is required in order to combat the growing risk divergence in theft trends,” says Mike Yarwood, Managing Director, Loss Prevention at TT Club. “Criminals are quick to adapt to prevailing conditions and have swiftly responded to the increased opportunities that supply chain congestion presents through the amount of cargo laying idle. In addition, the transport industry’s growing reliance on technology and a rapidly changing market for sourcing materials and components have opened up new avenues for criminals to take advantage of companies’ increased vulnerabilities. TT, along with its partners is committed to tracking and reporting on such developments in criminals methods of operation in order to reduce the risk of losses wherever possible.”

According to the American Journal of Transportation, the products most frequently involved in global cargo thefts overall last year, included agricultural produce (12%), food and beverage (14%), construction materials (9%) and electronics (10%).

The report also offers advice on how operators can protect their cargo from the theft risks outlined. Tony Pelli, BSI’s Practice Director for Security and Resilience has produced a checklist of precautionary action points.

“To mitigate risk there are a range of safeguards, including careful verification of trucking companies and other sub-contractors; insisting on the provision of details such as driver’s name, trailer number and appointed pick-up times and background screening of employees,” explains Pelli. “Vigilance is paramount, and we hope our reporting and advice will help supply chain partners to maintain and increase their diligent efforts to combat crime.”

Thorsten Neumann, President & CEO, of TAPA EMEA, added:

“What we are seeing in EMEA is a heightened level of risk to virtually all types of goods moving in supply chains across our region. This comes from increasingly active and sophisticated organised crime groups which often regard supply chains as an easy and lucrative target. Sadly, too many companies wait to seek solutions until they become a victim of a cargo crime but, by then, they will have suffered a significant financial and reputational loss. The way forward is to recognise the risks which exist and to learn about the industry standards, training and intelligence solutions which are available today and which are already key to the supply chain resilience of leading manufacturers and freight transport and logistic providers. All is not lost, but it is a time for action to manage these risks and prevent rising product losses.”

Photo: PeakPx /CC0 1.0