Canadian Underwriter

How much cargo theft rose in 2022

January 16, 2023   by Alyssa DiSabatino

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Cargo theft across Canada and the U.S. rose by 15% in 2022 from the previous year, equal to 1778 recorded theft incidents, a cargo theft recording firm reports. And cargo insurers should be aware of an emerging threat: fictitious cargo thefts.  

Theft events of at least one heavy commercial vehicle (i.e., a semi-truck or semi-trailer) also increased by 17% from the year previous, while events that involved theft of cargo increased by 20%, CargoNet finds. 

Plus, cargo theft in 2022 was costly: the average value of cargo stolen in an event was $214,104. 

The sharp uptick in these thefts may be credited to the reopening of borders post-COVID, as well as an increase in supply chain demand, adds Équité Association, a national organization founded to reduce and prevent insurance fraud and crime.  

“Canada saw a drop in cargo theft during the pandemic as borders closed and production delays impacted supply chains. As the markets are opening back up and supply has increased, so has cargo theft,” says Équité on the rise of cargo theft in 2022. 

“Supply chain disruptions were one of the main concerns of the year because of their effect on inflation,” CargoNet says in a release. “Scarcity and cost drove illicit market demand for goods that were most affected, like computer graphics cards and raw beef, poultry, and pork.  

“Available capacity eased in the later months of 2022, but theft remained a prominent threat.” 

Household items, such as appliances and furniture which often get targeted during long hauls or the final mile of the trip, were the most stolen commodity in 2022. CargoNet also reports a “notable” increase in the theft of tools and toys. 

Theft of computer electronics is still at an unprecedented level. However, it decreased by 37% from the year prior. Additionally, theft of televisions and other displays nearly doubled from 2021. 

Top targeted locations for cargo theft include intermodal hubs, warehouse/distribution centres and parking lots. 

In the new year, drivers should beware of, and aim to mitigate, fictitious cargo pickups, which has increased in the past year.  

There were 96 fictitious pickups—equal to a 600% increase—in 2022 from the year prior. 

This style of theft blends identity and cargo theft and has supply chain consequences, CargoNet warns. Fictitious cargo pickup relies on subcontracting the shipment to a legitimate motor carrier and having the shipment misdirected to another address. 

These pickups mostly occurred in California but are picking up speed elsewhere. Shipments of solar modules, auto parts, and vehicle maintenance products like engine oil are most at risk, but the threat extends to most cargo.  


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