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Lockdown fails to deter cargo crime

[ April 20, 2021   //   ]

Criminals stole of more than €172 million worth of goods in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2020 despite the Covid said the the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) in its Cargo Theft Annual Report.

Based only on data reported to the Association’s Incident Information Service (IIS), in a year when governments were advising people to stay at home, TAPA EMEA still recorded 6,463 cargo thefts in 56 countries and an average loss for every day of 2020 of €471,432.

The average loss for major cargo crimes with individual losses of €100,000 or more in 2020 was €529,348.

The high numbers, however, remain only a fraction of the losses TAPA EMEA believes are being suffered as the total loss is based on only the 65.1% of reports to TAPA EMEA’s IIS which shared financial data. Most cargo thefts during road, ocean, airfreight and rail transportation are still not reported by victims to its incident database.

In 2020, 74.6% of all incidents recorded by TAPA EMEA involved cargo thefts in the United Kingdom and Germany, with 3,100 and 1,727 crimes respectively over the 12-month period which mainly reflect the proactive sharing of cargo crime data by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) rather than a particular predilection for crime.

TAPA EMEA president and chief executive Thorsten Neumann said that 2020 “will go down in history as a year like no other. At a time when most businesses were focused almost entirely on a fight for survival, and law enforcement agencies faced the added pressure of policing new government lockdowns, traditional channels of cargo crime data were, as expected, also severely impacted. Consequently, it is difficult to give a meaningful comparison with previous years. However, while some criminal operations would have been disrupted by lockdown measures, 2020 still saw the second-highest rate of incidents in TAPA’s 24-year history, And, had we been able to maintain the same level of data sharing from LEAs across the region as we achieved in 2019, I am certain 2020 would have set a new record for cargo crimes in the EMEA region.”

Factors that fuelled crime in 2020, including widespread and, often, misleading media reports of product shortages and empty supermarket shelves together with the global race for scarce supplies of PPE. Job losses or the fear of unemployment will have opened up new ‘markets’ to buyers seeking bargains.

In a single incident in in Spain in April, two million facemasks and other PPE equipment worth €5 million were stolen in Santiago de Compostela but the highest-value loss of the yearwas  the robbery of a cash-in-transit vehicle in Lyon, France, in August netting over €9 million.

With TAPA estimating a shortfall of over 2,000 secure truck parking sites, vehicles were – once again – the most frequent victims of cargo crime when they were parked in unsecured parking locations including laybys, truck stops or on industrial estates.

Violence or the threat of violence was reported in 232 incidents, although, again, TAPA believes the true figure to be far higher. South Africa saw the highest number of violent attacks, followed by the UK, Spain and France.

Criminals’ methods including using fake blue lights to impersonate police and traffic officers to stop trucks; GPS ‘jammers to block vehicle security tracking signals; fake driver and vehicle documents to facilitate cargo collections; roadblocks using cars, trucks and fires; driving vehicles through closed gates to gain access to transport yards and warehouse facilities; online freight exchanges offering services at rates that prove d too good to be true; gas attacks on drivers taking rest breaks in their cabs, or pepper sprays; and false vehicle breakdown in more remote locations to buy time for drivers, vehicles and loads to disappear.

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