Cargo Theft Taking Another Bite Out of Retail Profits

When it comes to cargo thefts in the U.S., thieves seem to be showing a hunger for one particular category of retail product—and it’s anything but high-tech.

According to the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International, cargo theft incidents involving food and drink products are stirring the pot as the most stolen type of freight since 2008. The latest report published November 5th indicates that food and drink items continue to be the most-stolen product type along the supply chain, accounting for 22 percent of total cargo thefts in the U.S. in July, August, and September 2015.

The study also found that incidents involving this particular product type are showing a similar trend to what’s been experienced in the pharmaceutical category—while the overall volume of thefts is dropping, statistics indicate that the average loss value is steadily climbing according to the available data.

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“Simply put, as the availability of low-security and high-value loads diminishes, organized cargo criminals must broaden their efforts, targeting a wider variety of low-risk, high-reward shipments,” the company reported.

When involved in cargo theft incidents that target food and drink products, cargo thieves must consider another factor that can eat into potential profits—waste and spoilage. When perishable items are stolen the product must be turned over quickly in order to maximize potential profits. Unfortunately, this can also lead to potential health concerns in the event that expired products are sold to consumers.

According to a recent report the most popular subtype of product stolen included sodas, juice, tea and water, with 16% of the total food and drink heists. This was followed by canned and dry goods. Meats were third on the list with 12% of the total incidents.

When food and drinks thefts valued over $250,000 are looked at closely, some interesting details also emerge. According to FreightWatch, seafood accounts for 50% of thefts over $250,000, with nuts accounting for another 25%.

“Organized cargo criminals are actively and aggressively targeting food and drinks and will continue to do so,” the report said. “With no unique serialization to hinder the reselling of these products, criminals will continue to weigh the pros of easy obtainability and liquidation against the cons of perishability and medium-value density as they determine where to focus their efforts.”

The bottom line, it is anticipated that cargo thefts involving food and drinks will continue to rise in value as cargo thieves continue to explore ways to minimize their potential risks and maximize illicit gains.

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