Canadian Underwriter

U.S. cargo thefts in 2015 drop 6% in volume and 21% in value compared to 2014: FreightWatch International

February 16, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter

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FreightWatch International (FWI) recorded 754 cargo thefts throughout the United States in 2015, representing a 6% drop in volume and a 21% decrease in value when compared to 2014.

There were 204 thefts in Q1, 187 in Q2, 174 in Q3 and 189 in Q4, FWI said in its U.S. Cargo Theft Report – 2015 Annual Report, released on Friday. The average value of these thefts was US$184,101. [click image below to enlarge]

The average value of thefts in 2015 was US$184,101

“Although the total number of incidents fell, the threat of cargo theft continues to grow in the United States due to increased organization and innovation on the part of cargo thieves, as they broaden their geographical areas of operation and improve their methods to avoid detection and capture,” FWI said in the report. “It should be noted that delays in incident reporting typically cause measurable increases in theft volumes in the weeks following publication of FWI reports. As such, the most recent totals for the year are expected to rise above those recorded thus far.”

The report noted that the downward trend of cargo theft volume continued in 2015. Although less of a steep drop than the 12% seen from 2013 to 2014, the 6% drop is a “significant number” that represents the overall tightening of the supply chain around the most valuable and desired products for cargo thieves. Since 2011, theft volumes have fluctuated slightly – never falling more than 4% from one year to the next – until 2014 recorded a 12% drop from the 2013 total theft volume. “Thieves often redirect their focus to less-than-full truckload shipments, meaning that no single victim’s losses in a full truckload event may be enough to justify a police report and insurance claim.”

FWI’s Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) has observed an increase in the rate of “facility thefts” to a level of 4% of total thefts, a rate higher than at any other point since SCIC began data collection in 2006. Facility theft had an average loss 322% higher than that of “theft of full truckload” at US$681,709. In addition, case studies, such as 2015 cargo thefts in Nevada, show that 100% of thefts were facility thefts of electronics, “indicating a desire and ability on the part of thieves to focus not only on one commodity, but one method of theft as well.” [click image below to enlarge]

In 2015, 74% of all thefts in the U.S. occurred in California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Georgia

In 2015, 74% of all thefts in the U.S. occurred in the top five states – California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Georgia. California, logging 19% of total theft for the year, experienced a 5% drop in cargo theft volume over 2014, but reclaimed the top spot from Florida who last year claimed 21% of thefts and the top spot.

In terms of the most stolen products, for the sixth consecutive year, “food and drinks” was the product type most often stolen, accounting for 24% of all reported cargo theft. Electronics, currently in second place after recording 15% of total thefts, had been on the rise for several years, but logged a decrease of 6% compared to 2014. Maintaining third position was “home and garden,” logging 12% of thefts last year.

“Although the volume of reported cargo theft incidents has fallen in the past year based on the data collected, the FreightWatch International Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) considers the threat of cargo theft in the United States to still be on the rise,” the report concluded. “This is due, in part, to the continued increase in the level of organization and sophistication of criminal groups focusing on cargo, and the relatively minor penalties often associated with cargo crime. Cargo theft continues to be massively underreported in the United States, which makes it difficult to paint the complete picture.”