Cargo Theft Increases in 2020

Cargo theft volumes and values in the U.S. increased in 2020 over the previous year and also hit a five-year high, according to cargo theft recording firm Sensitech’s annual report.

According to Overdrive magazine, the firm notes that its data is an representation of the overall cargo theft footprint and not a direct reflection. It uses data from transportation security councils, insurance companies and law enforcement organizations, which may not represent 100% of all thefts but does provide a cross-section of thefts to identify trends, the firm notes.

These numbers represent a 23% increase in volume and a 41% increase in average value when compared to 2019. The numbers also represent the highest recorded volume and average value in the last five years, Sensitech adds.

The average value of 2020 thefts was $166,854.

It was the second consecutive year with an upward trend in reported cargo theft volume, which prior to 2019 had been in decline since 2011.

Notable cargo theft trends in 2020 include pandemic-influenced product targeting and a record-breaking year for pilferage. Primarily, the rise in pilferage has fueled the increase in thefts, Sensitech says, as large-scale pilferage events accounted for 43% of total thefts. Pilferage is the theft of small portions of a load rather than stealing a full load.

Additionally, product targeting in the pandemic was specific to merchandise that was already in shortage, ensuring quick liquidation and easy resale for the thieves. These products included toilet paper, disinfectants, personal protective equipment, ventilators and more. This is in line with Sensitech’s data showing miscellaneous products being the most stolen for the year for the first time, accounting for 23% of all thefts.

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