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Global cargo crime trends revealed

Loss of purchasing power across the global continues to fuel cargo crime, according to the latest report from TT Club and BSI.

The recently published Annual Cargo Theft Report 2023, co-authored by freight insurer TT Club and supply chain intelligence provider BSI, pinpoints high inflation as a primary macroeconomic driver of cargo crime patterns. The rise in the theft of food and beverages as a stolen commodity is one such indicator.

Key findings of the report

• Increase in Food and Beverages (including alcohol) stolen from 16% to 24% of global total
• Most common mode remains Road at 71%
• Facilities as a location for theft down from 30% to 23%
• Top countries include Mexico, USA, South Africa, Germany and Italy
• Electronics slightly down at 9% of incidents but still significant in terms of value
• Modus operandi differs by region: examples include ‘Blue light crime’ in South Africa
and ‘insider activity’ in Asia.

The report is intended to serve as cautionary advice to all concerned with supply chain security and also to provide mitigation recommendations to combat these threats which are likely to persist into the current year.

Tony Pelli, Practice Director at BSI, gives substance to the extent of these crimes: “Cargo theft is a problem that costs companies tens of billions of dollars each year and can cause significant disruption to important supply chains, from pharmaceutical products to semiconductors.

“Having accurate and up-to-date intelligence is the first step in combatting this problem and pinpointing the locations and types of theft that are most likely to harm global supply chains.”

Managing Director – Loss Prevention at TT Club, Mike Yarwood, adds: “In identifying shifting crime patterns in terms of new fraudulent methodologies and a focus on both historic and current geographic risk, we seek to assist operators in tightening their security processes.”

“In addition to the details of the global trends in commodities stolen and the types of theft we have provided a series of case studies drawing attention to prevalent regional or country specific dangers.”

These include an increase in olive oil thefts in Southern European countries following record poor harvests and a consequent rapid rise in the value of the oil, evidenced by the retail cost recorded on supermarket shelves.

Also detailed are crimes in both Europe and the USA that employ various types of fraud, including identity theft, fictious pick-ups and drop-offs and credit fraud. In South Africa so-called Blue Light gangs, who imitate police in order to stop vehicles are becoming more common. Finally, awareness of corruption among employees and third-party contractors is particularly stressed in Asia, where much evidence exists of ‘insider’ activity leading to cargo theft from warehouse facilities and trucking operations.

In terms of mitigation, Yarwood comments: “Our combined experience as insurance provider and supply chain intelligence gatherer is invaluable, not just recording the details of crime but also in recommending practical actions and process design suggestions that will strengthen supply chain organisations in their fight against the threat of theft. These too are itemised in our report.”

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