Cargo thefts up during second quarter of 2020, threatening supplies of food and fuel

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(Natural News) Rising cases of cargo thefts are threatening supplies as the impact of the pandemic remains strong. Based on recent reports from cargo theft recording firm SensiGuard, cargo thefts spiked during the second quarter of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

In total, the firm recorded 227 cargo thefts since federal authorities declared the pandemic in March: 96 of these thefts occurred in April, 67 in May and 64 in June. The average value of the stolen goods per incident during the said quarter is just over $200,000.

These figures correspond to a 56 percent increase in thefts and an 80 percent increase in theft value compared to those recorded in 2019. Texas also overtook California for the first time since the third quarter of 2017 as the top state for cargo theft, accounting for 24 percent of the nation’s total thefts, according to Overdrive Online.

Unprecedented risk of crime

Since pandemic restrictions took effect in March, experts found a significant overall drop in crime in major U.S. cities. But this isn’t as good as it sounds.

Cargo and retail theft, some of the more recent reported crimes amid the pandemic, are rearing their heads as the nation enters the third quarter of 2020.

Experts are concerned that thieves looking to exploit the crisis might target shipments of foods and drinks, medical supplies and other essential products like household cleaners and toilet paper that people have been stockpiling since March.

In fact, according to SensiGuard, foods and drinks accounted for 20 percent of all cargo thefts since the pandemic started. This figure might seem too small and insignificant to bring about real damage to supplies, but that’s far from the truth.


Seals on the shipments for essential commodities are important, so much so that minor burglaries could result in the entire shipment or cargo being disposed of.

In effect, this rising trend in cargo theft could further strain supply chains already disrupted by the pandemic. But as the economic crisis persists, experts fear this rising trend in cargo thefts might continue on this path for the succeeding quarters and lead to potential shortages of food and essential supplies.

U.K. faces increased cargo theft incidences

Records of significant increases in cargo theft are not unique to the U.S. In the U.K., pandemic restrictions have also led to a severe increase in reported theft cases from local facilities. In some instances, perpetrators stole entire loaded trailers from unmanned premises and parking lots.

Just last month, the Freight Unit of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), a national police unit in the U.K. specializing in vehicle finance crime, acted to recover more than $250,000 of stolen goods from cargos.

Cargo crime happens less frequently in the U.K. than in the U.S., prompting industry experts to speculate that the economic crisis amid the pandemic might be spurring thieves to target freights and cargos.

The U.K. ranks 27th around the globe in terms of its reported COVID-19 cases, according to a recent report from John Hopkins University. Nonetheless, authorities had begun easing and lifting restrictions throughout the nation, prompting stakeholders to tighten securities amid an active period of cargo theft and disruptions in global supply chains.

Cargo thefts soar across the globe

Pandemic restrictions are also beginning to ease across Europe, the Middle East and in other countries around the globe, but experts are concerned that this might bring about a surge in cargo crime.

For instance, authorities reported more than 400 cargo thefts across Europe and the Middle East since March. The stolen cargo included millions of face masks in Spain alone and a total of USD 18.2 million in goods.

“Cargo crime is a 24/7/365 phenomenon,” said Thorsten Neumann, president of the Transported Asset Protection Association Europe, Middle East & Africa (TAPA EMEA). “But the outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted the activities of both organized crime groups and opportunist cargo thieves.”

Furthermore, the British Standards Institution (BSI), the U.K.’s national standards body, has also reported increasing incidents of cargo thefts.

Based on its annual Supply Chain Risk Insights Report issued at the beginning of March, cleaning solutions and tobacco are among the most stolen goods in Mexico and other countries in South America. On the other hand, electronics remain a top target for cargo thieves in Africa and across the Middle East.

Taken together, the rising global trend of cargo thefts could have far-reaching implications for food supplies and other essential goods amid the ongoing pandemic. (Related: Grocery prices soar and supply chains experience backlogs amid coronavirus pandemic.)

Nonetheless, rising cases of theft have urged the transport and retail sectors to be more vigilant and to exercise preventive measures against theft as countries enter the third quarter of 2020.

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