The COVID-19 pandemic created brand new obstacles for the fleet industry in 2020, and one of these challenges in the case of heavy-duty trucking was an increase in cargo theft.
According to CargoNet, when comparing year-over-year cargo theft data in 2020 from the end of February to the end of May alone, there was a 44.57% increase in theft events. 1
And while a sense of normalcy is returning for much of the world with the end of the pandemic in sight, cargo thefts that occur during holidays will likely continue to be an industry challenge.
According to CargoNet, holidays are a popular time for cargo thieves to steal goods due to an increase in shipping volume of goods.
“Freight brokers should be extra-diligent during the holiday season as fictitious pickups increase,” CargoNet said.
Following is data from CargoNet that examines theft data during several holiday periods for the last several years, prior to the pandemic.
Winter Holiday Cargo Theft Trends
During the winter holidays – when analyzing the years between 2015 to 2019 – the top targeted commodities were food and beverage, which was followed by household goods, and then electronics.
Theft of food and beverage freights accounted for 27% of all cargo that was stolen during this period, so fleets that tend to haul this type of commodity during this time of year should make themselves more aware of measures to protect against theft.
One way to help combat this, CargoNet suggests fleets avoid having loaded trailers sit unattended when employees are not present. Parking lots are a highly targeted location type during this holiday period, so fleets should consider that when hauling goods.
This was based on an analysis of data that looked at five years just before the pandemic that looked at cargo thefts from December 23 to January 2. The data reported a total of 177 cargo thefts occurring during this span of time.2
Analyzing data from the same span of years as winter but instead for the Thanksgiving holiday, the top three targeted commodity types were food and beverage, electronics, and household goods, similar to the winter holiday season.
Of the listed commodity types, televisions, alcoholic beverages, and major appliances, were some of the most targeted items. Trucking fleets regularly hauling these materials may also want to make note and consider making appropriate precautions during November.
The most targeted location type for this holiday were truck stops. Another suggested method to curb theft during the holiday seasons, according to CargoNet, includes making sure that drivers and all appropriate parties have accurate license plates, VIN and descriptive information for tractors, containers, and container chassis, in case a truck or its important cargo is ever stolen.
This was based on an analysis of data that looked at theft events in the days leading up to thanksgiving or the days immediately after. The data reported a total of 123 cargo thefts occurring during this time.3
Labor Day Weekend
The top three targeted commodity types for the five-year span prior to the pandemic during Labor Day weekend were electronics, household goods, and other commercial/industrial goods.
The most targeted location type during this holiday season were warehouses/distribution centers. A tip to curb theft at these types of locations is to encourage documentation and reporting of all suspicious activity that occurs in and around a facility to security personnel, according to CargoNet. You should also ask local police agencies to make routine checks of facilities during holiday downtime
This was based on an analysis of data that looked at the Thursday before Labor Day to the Wednesday after Labor Day. The data reported a total of 161 cargo thefts occurring during this time.4
Fourth of July
Similar to cargo theft trends for some of the holidays in the latter part of the year, some of the frequently most targeted commodity types were food and beverage and household goods. Uniquely, building materials were the third most targeted commodity type.
Parking lots and unsecured yards were the most targeted location types for this holiday. Due to the nature of these locations, as a preventive protective measure, CargoNet suggests fleets secure all trailers with high-security ISO 17712- compliant barrier seals, along with hardened padlocks.
This was based on analysis from July 1 to July 7 and found 130 cargo thefts during this time over the last few years before the pandemic.5
The top three targeted commodity types for the Memorial Day holiday between 2015 – 2019 were food and beverage, household goods, and electronics.
Warehouse and distribution centers were a top target location for this holiday. Additional theft protection measures from CargoNet include checking to make sure the entire facility your vehicles visit are in good working order, and should have proper lighting, secure fences, and staffed security services.
This was based on analysis that occurred during the Memorial Day weekend and found 255 cargo thefts during this time over the last few years before the pandemic.6
Overall Holiday Data
Across the board for these holidays, California and Texas were consistently in the top three states as being victim to cargo thefts, with both states occasionally swapping the No. 1 spot of most theft. Florida also regularly appeared as one of the other top three states that experience high volumes of cargo theft, according to CarogNet.
Additionally, theft from food and beverage freights was the frequently most targeted commodity type in this holiday cargo thefts over the last several years prior to the pandemic.
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