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October 18, 2019

The holidays are approaching fast – Beware of cargo theft!

Scott Dunwiddie

While you’re making preparations for company gatherings and thinking about holiday shopping, be sure to take some time to review the processes your company has in place to prevent cargo theft – because thieves are already making their plans to take their presents early. In fact, according to a Dec., 2018 Commercial Carrier Journal article, during the last five winter holiday periods, cargo theft recording firm SensiGuard has recorded about two thefts per day, with an average loss value of $182,260 – which is 6 percent higher than throughout the rest of the year.1

If you’ve ever been the victim of cargo theft, you’re likely familiar with what that terminology means.  However, the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board developed the following legal definition: “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility….”2

Most cargo theft occurs at truck stops, parking lots and warehouses – or in other words where most commercial vehicles are found. There are a couple common theft scenarios: First scenario involves a thief following a driver from the warehouse until he stops, then stealing the cargo at that location. Second scenario involves, what’s generally called, “fictitious pickups” or pickups where a thief impersonates a legitimate carrier and fraudulently secures a contract to transport cargo. The cargo is taken in this scenario with typically no trace of the thief upon discovery of the crime.3

So what can your company do to help prevent this kind of theft?  In his Dec. 2017 webinar, NICB Special Agent Steve Covey suggests vetting potential business associates by way of internet checks (, FMCSA) and word of mouth/calling other companies; contacting local Cargo Security Councils and national associations to access the latest information and resources; and, making friends with the police before your problem happens. Other measures that can help include high visibility lighting, secured yards, high security locks, GPS tracking, and confirming receiving facilities holiday hours to help prevent unnecessary layovers with loaded trucks.1

For more information or assistance, please contact us at  We appreciate your safety efforts!

CCJ Staff. (2018, December 21). Be wary of increased cargo theft activity around Christmas, New Year's. Retrieved October 11, 2019, from

Cargo Theft, 2016, Crime in the United States (p. 1), U.S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation – Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

Lienau, L. (n.d.). 2014 NICB Identified Cargo Thefts: NC, SC, VA (pp. 1–2). National Insurance Crime Bureau.