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Black market fuels lockdown cargo thefts

[ October 1, 2020   //   ]

Over €85 million of products were stolen from supply chains in 46 countries in Europe, Middle East and Africa (in the first half of 2020 despite Covid lockdowns, says the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA).

While opportunist cargo thieves almost certainly reduced their activity in the first six months of the year, TAPA says its intelligence indicates that many organised crime groups were ‘stealing to order’ given the number of losses of PPE and other in-demand goods such as food, drink, cosmetics and hygiene products which was then sold on the black market.

Overall, for the first 182 days of 2020, TAPA recorded 3,278 cargo theft incidents with a total loss of €85m.

The biggest single loss of PPE were 2m face masks and other equipment valued at €5m stolen from a warehouse in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain in April. Millions of respiratory masks were stolen from an airfreight facility in Kenya on 20 March, 680,000 face masks in the Czech Republic on 17 March and 500,000 face masks taken from a truck in France on 7 May.

About 130,000 toilet rolls also went missing from trailers in Walsall in the UK on 20 March. In fact, the UK recorded the highest number of major cargo losses in the reporting period with 56 or 63.6% of all crimes with a value of €100,000 or more, with a total loss of €27.6m, although TAPA said this was largely due to the high level of support and intelligence TAPA receives from UK law enforcement. The UK crime rate is not significantly higher than in other countries.

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