Report: Companies Lose Billions Each Year to Cargo Theft

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Cargo theft is  costing companies billions every year, and thieves are using more sophisticated means of stealing goods being transported around the globe, according to BSI’s recent supply chain intelligence report.

In 2015 alone, thieves stole $22.6 billion worth of goods around the world. It’s an “enormous number,” notes Jim Yarbrough, global intelligence program manager at BSI Group, and it’s growing every year.

What is also troubling is that historically high-risk regions are becoming even riskier. Take, for instance, South Africa, where there was a 30% increase in cargo truck hijackings in 2015, the BSI report showed. While cargo thefts have been common in that country for years, the increase in violence and number of incidents in the last year is concerning, Yarbrough said.

Thieves in South Africa are not just stealing high-valued goods like pharmaceuticals and luxury items. They’re targeting products of lesser values like clothing, too, Yarbrough said. Of all the hijackings in 2015, 17% occurred on shipments valued at less than $20,000, up from the 12% of such thefts in 2014.

“2015 saw the highest number of hijackings of loads totaling less than $20,000 of any year since 2012,” the BSI report said.

Sophisticated Attacks Call for Sophisticated Countermeasures

Another trend BSI noticed in 2015 was how cargo thefts were using increasingly sophisticated tactics to steal goods. While companies are continuing to improve their methods to prevent cargo thefts, the criminals conducting these acts are also improving their techniques, Yarbrough said.

“The older countermeasures are no longer effective because criminals are still in the business of conducting crime, so they get better and better at their jobs,” he said.

Certain countries around the world have been successful at decreasing cargo thefts in recent years, however. Places like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom saw a decrease in the risk of cargo thefts in 2015, the BSI report stated. Cargo thefts in the Netherlands declined 20% in 2015, for example, making last year the third year in a row the country was able to reduce the amount of stolen shipments.

Countries that are successfully reducing cargo theft risks like the Netherlands are implementing effective security measures,Yarbrough said. These countries have dedicated local security forces and nationwide efforts in place to address these cargo problems, he said.

Companies can work to reduce being hit by thieves by adapting specific countermeasures for each of the different regions they are operating in. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” security measure companies can put into place in all areas of the world, Yarbrough said. Businesses need to be adaptable and shift their policies and procedures based on the level of risk each location poses. The goal is to create a resilient supply chain that can respond to the variety of threats businesses face in an increasingly complex global environment.

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