Feature, Freight News, Logistics

More data means more cargo crime, says TAPA

[ February 18, 2016   //   ]

The reporting of cargo crimes to the Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) Incident Information Service (IIS) reached a five-year high in 2015. However, the 37.4% year-on-year increase to 1,515 recorded freight thefts in the EMEA region mainly reflects growing awareness of cargo crime among law enforcement agencies in the EMEA region and the willingness of police forces in major European countries to share data with the Association.

Thorsten Neumann, Chairman of TAPA EMEA, stated: “We know that the number of cargo crimes reported by TAPA and others still only reflects what may be a relatively low percentage of overall cargo crimes. Often this is because freight thefts are recorded by law enforcement agencies only as commercial property or vehicle crimes so it is difficult to extract the data that specifically relates to supply chain losses. However, this is changing and in 2015 we received a record number of intelligence updates from police authorities, which is extremely encouraging. This is enabling us to build an increasingly accurate picture of cargo crime in our region.”

Belgium is a good example of how law enforcement agencies is making a significant difference. In 2014, TAPA EMEA’s IIS recorded only 12 cargo thefts but, in 2015, Belgian police were able to identify and share information with TAPA on 341 cargo crime incidents. This puts Belgium at a similar level to other major supply chain gateways such as the Netherlands, which recorded 458 cargo crime incidents in 2015, and the UK with 367 thefts or attempted thefts recorded last year.

TAPA is continuing to promote partnerships with law enforcement agencies in other countries across the EMEA region where attacks on facilities and goods in transit are known to be significantly higher than the number of incidents reported to IIS, including Germany, France, Italy and South Africa. The Association has warned manufacturers and logistics service providers to not automatically assume that a country with a low reported rate of cargo crime actually is lower risk – it may be due to a lack of data.

Thorsten Neumann explains: “We have to take a team approach to tackling cargo crime. That means helping our law enforcement partners identify freight thefts from other forms of crime and showing them the value of sharing this intelligence. By having a better understanding of where cargo crimes occur, the types of incidents taking place and the modus operandi of cargo thieves, TAPA EMEA members can increase the security of their supply chains. Ultimately that means less crime and reduces the need for companies to call upon the already-stretched resources of police forces.”

He continues: “The real trend we are seeing is that cargo thieves are now prepared to target virtually any product. When TAPA was launched in EMEA 15 years ago, it was to help manufacturers of high value technology products and their logistics partners to combat losses from their supply chains. High value technology is still a target – but, now, so is everything else. Products with a low unit value can be just as attractive because of the high volumes they move in. And, these products are often easier to dispose of and harder to trace. This includes food and drink, cigarettes, cosmetics and hygiene, clothing and footwear products; 2015 also saw a number of high value losses of pharmaceuticals.”

TAPA is also concerned at the increasing number of violent attacks on truck drivers by criminals; IIS recorded incidents of drivers being threatened with knives and guns as well as physical assaults that led to some drivers being kidnapped and others needing hospital treatment.

And if drivers feel their personal safety is at risk too, it will be even harder to attract people to the profession.