Theft from warehouses is primary cargo crime in Middle East, according to new report

According to a new report from international freight transport insurer, TT Club and the supply chain services and solutions team at BSI, over three-quarters of cargo theft occurs at logistics hubs and warehouses, with Free Trade Zone (FTZ) particularly vulnerable locations.

Key findings include:

  • 76% of cargo theft is from warehouse and storage facilities
  • Crime hot-spots in UAE & Saudi Arabia
  • High-value goods such as electronics targeted
  • Insider assistance and corruption plays a prominent role
  • Smuggling of illicit contraband prevalent in Free trade Zones (FTZ)

TT Club’s Mike Yarwood comments: “Our reports are intended to alert those in the supply chain to the variable and developing trends in the risk of cargo theft during intermodal transportation. The unique combination of BSI sourced data on criminal activity and TT Club’s insurance claims records provides valuable intelligence to operators.”

“Regular updates of this nature are essential as criminal gangs are constantly altering their points of attack. The current prevalence of supply chain congestion, delays, disruption, and in the Middle East region in particular packed warehouses, makes such information critical.”

The report highlights that warehouse thefts and supply chain corruption are the stand-outs, with a concentration on higher risk areas across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The role special economic zones play in the Middle East also effects regional disparities in cargo theft.

Free Trade Zones (FTZ) are a significant feature of the regional economy and represent potential vulnerabilities for supply chains by virtue of facilitating high volumes of trade under simplified customs procedures that can provide opportunities for criminals to act. 

Furthermore, as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies return to pre-pandemic levels, and data provided by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) is projecting growth in trade, it is possible that criminals will also seek to exploit these higher volumes of cargo throughput to introduce illicit drugs and counterfeited products into shipments.

Umberto de Pretto, Secretary General, International Road Transport Union comments: “The IRU, together with its members and partners, continues to strengthen global transport supply chains, notably through the implementation of international standards such as TIR for compliance management and security, and through innovative training to help road transport professionals identify risks and adapt operations to avoid security threats.”

Yarwood says that “As well as financial damage, these incidents can cause severe operational disruption and unquantifiable reputational damage to supply chain service providers. As a consequence, it remains of key importance to the transport industry to identify, prevent and report any criminal activity.”

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