Air, Forwarding, Freight News, Logistics, Rail, Road, Sea

Cargo thieves switch to warehouses

[ February 24, 2021   //   ]

Theft from storage facilities increasing and there has been a relative decline in in-transit incidents and those involving vehicles, according to whole year data from 2020 compiled by insurer, TT Club, and supply chain intelligence firm, BSI.

The trend reflected the radical changes to consumer buying patterns as a consequence of the pandemic, it said.

TT Club’s managing director, loss prevention, Mike Yarwood explained: “The effects throughout 2020 of the COVID crisis threatened supply chain security, continuity and resilience. Not only did newly created high-value commodities such as PPE become targets for theft but bottlenecks in the logistics infrastructure at ports and warehouses brought increased potential risks. Temporary overflow storage facilities added to the dangers in loosening the grip of existing security systems.”

Although specific incidents have not yet occurred, unless distribution plans for vaccines are perfectly executed within the expectations of any given population, challenges will arise in protecting this most valuable of cargoes in the coming months, Yarwood added.

In Europe, the stockpiling of goods meant these inventories came under particular threat with 48% of 2020 reported thefts coming from warehouses and production facilities. This was in contrast with 2019 when only 18% came at such locations. On the other hand, 54% of incidents in 2019 occurred in rest areas and parking sites in 2019 — the 2020 figure was 19%.

In Asia, the countries with the highest risk remain India, Indonesia, China and Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia the in-transit risk indicates the prevalence of bribery and corruption with a high percentage of thefts being facilitated by employees and customs or other officials. 

North America continues to see theft coming almost exclusively in-transit via hijackings or directly from parked vehicles. Social unrest, particularly in Mexico, had an effect, with protesters blockading train tracks, created a backup of cargo across the country.

In South America, Brazil was a hotspot thanks to major illegal drug smuggling gangs that need to fund their trafficking efforts. Again, the dominant risks were from hijacking and theft from or of vehicles. 

TT Club forecasts that in 2021 disruption and the uneven resumption of international trade resulting from the spread of COVID will continue with imbalances in shipping container distribution and have a knock-on effect air cargo capacity, so the added vulnerability of cargo will therefore continue.

The full report can be downloaded free at: