Shipments of harvested nuts are the latest hot commodity in the world of cargo theft. In recent weeks, nut growers and processors in central California have been hit with numerous cargo thefts of nuts valued at approximately $300,000 per incident. Authorities suspect an organized crime ring out of Los Angeles is responsible for these latest thefts. Authorities recently held an “emergency nut theft summit” in Visalia, California, to discuss the problem. They believe many of the stolen nuts are making their way to Detroit, where they are being sold to bakeries and store fronts. And California is not the only place being hit by cargo theft of nuts. Michigan, too, saw the theft of 28,000 pounds of walnuts in June. Why transport them all the way from California when you can just steal them locally, right?
There appeared to be some light at the end of the cargo theft tunnel in 2014 as incidents fell to 794 from 2013 levels. But some statistics show the first quarter of 2015 has seen the return of the upward trend once again. Other reports, however, are showing a continuing downward trend. No matter what statistical study you believe, cargo theft is still a major issue for manufacturers, growers, shippers, retailers and law enforcement, nationwide and worldwide. California, Texas, Florida and New Jersey continue to be cargo theft hot spots. Recently, Georgia and Michigan are quickly gaining ground on New Jersey. Theft of food and drinks leads the way at 22% of all incidents of cargo theft, followed by theft of electronics at 12%. Theft of electronic shipments take the dollar value prize of almost $800,000 per occurrence. The average dollar amount per incidence of cargo theft is just under $200,000. While theft of full truckloads continue to be the most prevalent type of cargo theft at 81%, fraudulent documents, fictitious pickups and identity theft are becoming more and more popular.
The following checklist gives tips and techniques to minimize cargo theft, both in terminals and on the road:
1. Only use reputable truck stops
2. Plan deliveries to businesses when they are open
3. Never park a truck in dark, secluded locations (69% of cargo thefts happen this way)
4. Never leave a truck idling. Turn it off and lock it up
5. If there are two drivers, one should remain with the truck at all times
6. Double verify load documents versus cargo quantities to prevent partial load thefts
7. Follow all truck seal protocols 100%
8. Do a walk around when returning to the truck to verify that nothing has been disturbed – doors, locks, seals
9. Alternate routes
10. Be suspicious. Be aware of all vehicles around the truck, parked or otherwise
11. Only discuss cargo type and routes with those who need to know
12. Don’t be a hero in the event of a hijacking. Cooperate
13. Install trailer tracking devices
14. Keep moving – 90% of all cargo thefts in the U.S occur when a trailer is dropped
15. Double verify all driver credentials, especially if they are unknown – personal ID, employers, insurance documents, truck registration.