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July 4th Holiday Cargo Theft Trends 2021

Cargo thieves will seek to exploit business closures to steal more cargo.

CargoNet is extending warnings about significant theft risk to freight for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Cargo thieves will seek to exploit extended business closures this upcoming holiday to steal more cargo.

In order to help supply chain professionals craft strategies to mitigate theft, CargoNet reviewed theft data between July 1 and July 7 for the previous five years. There were a total of 127 theft events reported in this analysis period or an average of 25 per year. The average stolen shipment was worth $145,699 per event. Activity for the Fourth of July weekend in 2020 was at its highest since 2016 and increased by 123% over the previous year. Forty-two percent of theft events occurred on a Friday or Saturday in this analysis.

In previous years, household goods and food and beverage items were the most commonly targeted commodities. This would include items like appliances, toys, alcoholic beverages, and seafood. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages and price inflation of specific goods and we think the items most affected—like computer electronics—are the items most at-risk this holiday.

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California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois recorded the most thefts in this analysis period. Our analysts believe these states are also most at-risk this upcoming holiday, but supply chain professionals should increase security across the Midwest and Southeastern United States in response to recent theft activity.

Extreme Risk of Theft

There are two crime trends that every supply chain professional should be concerned about this upcoming holiday.

  • Computer Electronics Departing Warehouses in California—CargoNet is tracking an ongoing theft risk to shipments of computer electronics departing warehouses in California. CargoNet has recorded over 50 thefts of electronics shipments in the state since September 2020 and thefts have increased 89 percent when compared to the previous year. On average, each full truckload theft event was worth $595,928 and each partial truckload $197,157.
  • Full Truckload Cargo Theft Activity in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas—CargoNet has noticed a recent spike in full truckload cargo thefts in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas. Preliminary investigations indicate that one or more sophisticated cargo theft groups may be stalking truck stops along major interstates and surveilling shipper’s warehouses with the intent to follow and steal once the shipment is left unattended.

Supply chain professionals can step up security by arranging for same-day delivery of short-haul shipments, embedding covert tracking devices, and by using high-security locks to prevent trailer burglaries. Drivers should adhere to the “red-zone” rule and avoid stopping within 250 miles of pickup. Drivers should also be on the lookout for any vehicles that appear to be following them and avoid leaving trucks and trailers unattended for long periods of time. Report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately and contact CargoNet at 888-595-2638 only after law enforcement has been notified and there are no immediate threats to life or property.

Noteworthy thefts from previous July 4th holidays

• $2,000,000 of perfume from Hillsborough Township, New Jersey
• $444,000 in power cables from Long Beach, California
• $439,895 in medical supplies from Davenport, Florida
• $352,000 of computer electronics from San Francisco, CA
• $328,321 of toys from Trevor, Wisconsin

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