Criminals are overwhelmingly targeting cargo trucks compared to other modalities

87 percent of cargo theft involved trucks compared to 13 percent for other modalities.

The 2020 annual report on cargo theft worldwide issued by international transport and logistics insurer TT Club and global provider of supply chain intelligence BSI confirms the overwhelming targeting of cargo trucks (87 percent) compared to all other modalities (13 percent). 

In 2019, BSI and TT Club noted several key trends among recorded cargo theft incidents.  These trends include both the overwhelming targeting of cargo trucks for theft compared to all other modalities as well as food and beverage being ranked first as the top commodity stolen in Asia.  

Both of these trends remained consistent from 2018. BSI and TT Club also noted an increase in 2019 in the number of cargo truck hijacking incidents, with thefts of and from vehicles similarly rising as a percentage of all theft incidents recorded in 2019.  In line with these trends, thefts most frequently occurred whiles vehicles were either in- transit or parked at rest areas 2019.

TT Club’s Mike Yarwood says that for locations of theft, they “most frequently occurred while in transit, in rest areas or an unsecured parking location. These accounted for 60% of those thefts reported.  We are particularly keen to draw attention to the dangers of such informal parking and encourage the provision of more secured truck stop facilities.”

In Asia, BSI and TT Club most frequently recorded cargo thefts in India (64 percent) and China (16 percent), a trend similar to that of 2018. Cargo thieves in these two countries are similar in profile and employ a wide range of tactics. The methods utilized by thieves in India and China range from very opportunistic means, such as pilferage and thefts by drivers or passersby, to more disorganize tactics, including in-transit truck thefts. In these types of thefts, thieves drive a vehicle behind a moving cargo truck, board the vehicle, and then throw goods to trailing accomplices.

Supply chain corruption is another major element of thefts in Asia, with corrupt employees removing goods they are transporting or accessing shipments stored in warehouses or logistics facilities. Thieves in these instances generally pilfer small numbers of items but occasionally manage to steal larger quantities of goods. These trends play out in the median value of thefts recorded by BSI and TT Club in the region, which tends to remain much lower than other regions where thieves often steal entire truckloads of high-value goods.

Like most regions of the world, the lack of secure parking locations in Asia is a key factor facilitating cargo theft. In China, for example, the insecurity of expressway service areas propagates the vulnerability of cargo trucks and often leads drivers to instead park in just-as-insecure roadside locations.

In Indonesia, bands of criminal gangs often extort cargo truck drivers through the demand of payments in exchange for safe passage through controlled areas. Although not a form of cargo theft, the forceful stoppage of non-compliant trucks by these criminals exposes shipments to the risk of potential cargo theft.

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