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Cargo crimes in EMEA top 8,548 incidents worth to US$152 million

Cargo thefts from supply chains in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) doubled last year to 8,548 incidents and involved product losses of EUR137 million (US$152.22 million). According to the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA), the incident rate is the highest recorded in the body's 23-year history.

In its Incident Information Service (IIS) Annual Report 2019, the TAPA also reveals average losses for major cargo crimes of EUR536,889 and an average daily loss in the EMEA region last year of EUR378,058. The intelligence data is based on cargo losses reported to TAPA's IIS by international law enforcement agencies, insurers, manufacturers and logistics service providers. Despite the high numbers, however, the association continues to emphasise that it is still not receiving reports on the large majority of cargo crimes it believes are taking place across the region.

In 2019, the number of incidents rose 114.7 per cent to 8,548. Of these, only 39.1 per cent of reports provided any financial value for the goods stolen. The association also recorded thefts from supply chains in more countries in the EMEA region than ever before - 48 in total compared to 35 in the previous year. Of this total, ten countries accounted for 94.6 per cent of the cargo crimes reported in 2019. The biggest single loss reported to TAPA's IIS in 2019 was the theft of EUR17,440,800 of jewellery/precious metals stolen from an origin facility in Gauteng province in South Africa. This was one of 19 crimes with 7- and 8-figure loss values. Overall, the 179 major cargo thefts last year - classified as incidents with a loss of EUR100,000 or more - represented a total loss of EUR 96,103,152.

Losses were recorded in 16 separate TAPA IIS product categories, with 12 suffering combined losses of EUR1 million or far higher; phones, clothing and footwear, cosmetics and hygiene products, car parts, computers/laptops, cash, jewellery/precious metals, furniture/household appliances, food and drink, metal, tobacco, sports equipment, and no load (theft of truck and/or trailer). Trucks continued to be the biggest target for cargo thieves, featuring in 95 per cent of all freight losses in the EMEA region.

The lack of secure truck parking remained one of the most significant contributors to these crimes, with drivers forced to park their vehicles at service stations, in laybys and on industrial estates while taking mandatory rest breaks. Attacks on trucks continued to mostly involve so-called 'curtain slashing' as thieves cut the tarpaulin curtains of parked trucks to reach the goods inside. Drivers also faced extreme violence in many of these attacks. At least two drivers lost their lives in cargo crimes in 2019 while others were threatened by violent offenders armed with guns, knives and other weapons.

Other modus operandi used by cargo thieves during the year included a significant number of fraudulent pick-ups by offenders using fake driver and company identities, and cloned vehicles - often after being awarded loads through online freight exchanges for available transport capacity. GPS jammers were once again used to block vehicle tracking signals is some truck hijackings, while the 'blue light' tactic to force drivers to stop their vehicles was another M.O. reported to TAPA.

Commenting on the 2019 data, TAPA EMEA's CEO Thorsten Neumann said: "Cargo crime has been growing at a record rate in the EMEA region since 2014 and previous analysis by the European Parliament and industry associations put the total cost at more than EUR8 billion a year in Europe alone."



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