Cargo Theft Statistics: Unreported Incidents Make It Difficult to Grasp Scope

Cargo theft statistics vary, but it is generally agreed upon that cargo theft is a multibillion-dollar problem each year in the United States. Exact numbers are impossible to determine in that many cargo crime incidents go unreported. The most recent cargo theft statistics available continue to be sobering.

Freight Watch International recorded a total of 193 incidents of cargo theft in the United States during the third quarter of 2016. The average value per theft was $120,536. Third-quarter incidents were up 14 percent from the second quarter of 2016, but the average dollar value per theft fell by 26 percent. Compared to the third quarter cargo theft statistics from 2015, incidents rose by 7 percent, while values dropped 38 percent. Fourth quarter 2016 statistics are still forthcoming.

For the entire year of 2016, CargoNet, a cargo theft and recovery service provider, reported 1,614 incidents of cargo theft, heavy commercial vehicle theft, supply-chain fraud, and other intelligence events across the United States and Canada. Eight hundred and 36 of these were direct cargo thefts. The average loss per theft was placed at $206,837.

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California continued as the worst state for cargo theft, up 36 percent for the year, followed, once again, by Texas in second place. New Jersey took over the third spot from Florida in 2016.

In December 2016, AFN Logistics listed the ten worst counties in the United States for cargo theft:

  • Los Angeles County, CA
  • Dallas County, TX
  • San Bernardino County, CA
  • Cook County (Chicago), IL
  • Miami-Dade County, FL
  • Harris County (Houston), TX
  • Tarrant County (Fort Worth), TX
  • Middlesex County (Edison), NJ
  • Will County (Bolingbrook), IL
  • Riverside County, CA

And, according to AFN, the following location types were the hardest hit:

  • Warehouse/distribution center
  • Other
  • Parking lot
  • Secured yard
  • Unsecured yard

CargoNet reported that food and beverage commodities remained the most stolen category of cargo in 2016. Alcoholic beverages, meat products, and nonalcoholic beverages were the most stolen items, respectively. Electronics were the next most stolen commodity but the costliest category with $45.6 million in losses reported across the United States and Canada. Cargo theft was the most common on Friday and Saturday. Monday and Tuesday were the most common days to report an incident.

Because so many incidents go unreported, quoted cargo theft statistics don’t match exactly. But it is universally agreed that cargo theft is a major economic threat, particularly to the retail industry. And it continues to grow.

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