Winter Holiday Season Cargo Theft Trends


Holidays pose significant theft risks to the supply chain, as enterprising thieves seek to exploit extended business closing hours and an increase in unattended freight. CargoNet examined recorded incidents of cargo theft and trucking vehicle theft from December 23 to January 2 for 2012 through 2016. The 2012 and 2016 holiday seasons were the most active in this analysis, each with 51 theft events. The 2016 holiday season had more events in January (11 events) compared with 2012 (7 events).

There were 199 total theft events in this analysis period; 132 involved cargo theft, and 149 involved vehicle theft. Note that vehicles and cargo are frequently stolen together. For vehicles, CargoNet logged 79 stolen tractors, 104 stolen trailers, and 24 chassis/intermodal containers.

In total, $10,625,339 in cargo was stolen in this analysis period, and the average loss value per incident equaled $136,222. However, the total cost of a cargo theft is often much higher when considering the value of any vehicles stolen, replacement costs for the cargo, the cost of the claims process, and more.

- Sponsors -

It can be difficult to obtain an exact day of loss in these thefts. The cargo or vehicles are often left unattended for multiple days, and there may be no clues to discern the exact day the theft occurred. In this analysis, 57 percent of theft events had an exact day of loss. Thefts were most common on December 24, with December 27 and 31 and January 1 tied for second place.

Texas had the most theft events, with 38 reported in the state in this analysis period. Thefts were also common in California (31 thefts), Georgia (25 thefts), Florida (16 thefts), and New Jersey (16 thefts).

Food and beverage was the most common category of cargo stolen. In this category, thieves targeted meat products, nonalcoholic beverages, and mixed freight. Apparel and accessories along with electronics losses tied for second place. In these commodity categories, thieves targeted footwear shipments and televisions. Computer and computer accessories were also targeted electronics items. Apparel and accessories shipments were the costliest on average; each loss had an average loss value of $451,537.

Theft events were most common at parking lots such as those at retail big-box stores; however, theft events were also high at truck stops and warehouse locations.

Click here to view the complete winter holiday cargo theft infographic and security tips.

Noteworthy thefts from previous winter holiday weeks:

• $3,000,000 in computer accessories from Dinuba, CA
• $1,000,000 in footwear from Edison, NJ
• $1,000,000 in high-end apparel from Newark, NJ
• $599,559 in footwear from Long Beach, CA
• $417,000 in footwear from Portland, OR

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.