Cargo Theft: The Latest Intelligence Regarding Professional Crime Organizations

More product than ever is being shipped to warehouses, stores and directly to consumers by truck. As a result, professional criminals have found that there is a fortune to be made by stealing these “warehouses on wheels.”

Once the exclusive domain of established organized crime families, dozens of new cargo theft rings have sprung up across the United States in the last ten years. In some parts of the country, law enforcement officials are overwhelmed and simply unable to keep up with the case load.

As reported in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, law enforcement agencies and insurance companies are both reporting increases in cargo theft activity. Chubb Corporation, a major insurance company based in N.J., reported that insurance claims and data from other sources showed cargo thefts in 2009 increased 6.6% from 2008, and were up 23% from 2007.

Attracted by the number of trucks on the road, the lax security controls utilized by many warehousing and transportation firms, the low probability of being caught, as well as the resale value of the goods, cargo theft has become an extremely profitable enterprise. Here are some of the tactics they frequently utilize:

• They are so confident in their ability to be successful that the product is oftentimes sold before the truck thefts or distribution center break-ins have even taken place.

• They have been known to infiltrate their members into companies posing as employees, vendors and contract labor, which has proven to be an excellent source of inside intelligence for them.

• It’s not unusual for them to conduct surveillance on a targeted DC or to follow trucks for extensive periods of time before striking.

• They are extremely familiar with almost every variety of GPS, including where the antennas are concealed. Consequently, they can have most GPS units disabled within minutes.

• They frequently conduct surveillance at truck stops commonly used by drivers looking for targets.

• They have been known to lease warehouses in various parts of the country with interior loading docks to safely conceal the trucks they steal and store goods.