CargoNet 2017 Cargo Theft Trend Analysis

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The CargoNet® Command Center logged 1,391 supply chain intelligence events into the CargoNet database in 2017. A total of 741 records involved a cargo theft event in the United States or Canada—one of the safest years ever recorded by CargoNet. The average cargo value per event was $196,109, and an estimated $145 million in cargo was stolen. CargoNet also recorded 1,479 stolen tractors, trailers, or intermodal chassis and containers in the United States and Canada in 2017.
The decrease in cargo theft can be largely attributed to successful law enforcement investigations in 2016. California was one of the states where successful investigations had the biggest impact; cargo theft was down 32% in California compared with 2016. California also has one of the highest concentrations of specialized cargo theft units in the country. Cargo theft events in New Jersey decreased 13% from 2016. We note that New Jersey State Police maintains specialized cargo theft units that work closely with local and county law enforcement agencies. Most of the top five states with the most cargo theft each year had decreases in 2017.
In 2017, 22% of all cargo thefts involved food and beverage items, with more than 100 cargo thefts of this commodity. Cargo thieves stole meat products and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages the most. However, thefts of food and beverage items decreased from 2016 in favor of household items such as major appliances and tools.
Cargo theft most commonly occurred on weekend days in 2017. Theft was most common on Friday, with 19%, Saturday, with 17%, and Sunday, with 16% of all cargo theft losses in 2017. In 37% of cargo theft cases, the cargo was left unattended for multiple days; and there was no electronic tracking, witnesses, or surveillance to determine the exact day of loss. In the event the exact day of loss is not known, the theft is assumed to have occurred on the first possible day. When we examined events in which the day of theft was known, theft was highest on Sunday, with 17% of losses, and Monday, with 16% of losses. This may not be a fair analysis, because truckers may be more likely just to leave their trucks overnight on Sunday or Monday compared to Friday or Saturday.
Cargo thefts occurred the most at warehouse locations but were closely followed by fenced yards. In 2017, 18% of all cargo theft occurred at a fenced yard location. We do not believe this indicates that fenced yards are more desirable targets, just that it is more common for a yard to be fenced at cargo theft hot spots like industrial areas of most major metropolitan areas.