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Theft of goods amid strained supply chains

Many businesses today face huge supply chain risks across many sectors. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unresolved entirely, with major ports in China already locked in to prevent the spread of the virus. Port congestion in North America, global shortages of semiconductor chips and fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war have also caused significant strain on the supply chain. These risks often lead to shortages, shipping delays, and rising prices.

Cargo theft amid a strained supply chain
Transportation and logistics of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane. 3d rendering and illustration.

As these major supply chain risks are filling the headlines, businesses may pay less attention to an old but always-present risk — that’s the theft of goods.

According to CargoNet’s report, verisk’s network of goods theft prevention and recovery, 1,285 risk events in the supply chain were recorded across the United States and Canada in 2021, a 15% decrease in activity compared to the same period last year. Fifty-five percent of these events involved the theft of at least one heavy motor vehicle, while 54 percent of the events involved theft of goods or attempts to steal goods.

Losses from theft of goods across the United States and Canada in 2021 were $57.9 million, or an average value of $172,340 per incident. Electronics were the most frequent targets, with California emerging as the main hotspot, followed by Texas and Florida.

Keith Lewis (pictured above), vice president of operations at CargoNet, said: “Theft of goods is an easy crime to commit for a number of reasons. “Supply chains move at a fast pace and lack of rolling assets and drivers, sometimes security is ignored to keep goods moving.”

According to Lewis, commodity thieves use a lot of methods to make money, usually during transportation. These include identity theft, petty theft, theft of entire trucks, theft of warehouses and internal affairs.

In 2020, thefts of goods have increased due to the pandemic, in which household items such as toiletries surpass electronic devices are the most stolen items.

Lewis said: “In 2021, we’ve seen levels of normalisation – a bad choice of words – reach the level in 2019.

The most noticeable effect of supply chain disruption due to theft of goods is cost. The losses caused by the theft are passed on to consumers, causing them to pay more for the goods. However, there is a huge overlap between the different supply chain risks.

“We really don’t know what the impact really is,” Lewis said. “The empty shelves could be from docks in the port, trucks delayed due to the weather or other non-criminal factors such as panic purchases, which we saw with paper goods in the early days of the pandemic.”

High fuel prices are also another major factor, as it affects most segments of the supply chain.

“Fuel surcharge calculations are usually a few days slower,” Lewis said. A driver picked up the goods in the Midwest and before it was delivered to the West Coast, fuel costs had increased during transportation. This and other factors can make it impossible for companies to expand or prevent an entrepreneur from entering the industry. ”

Reduce theft of goods

Lewis offers some tips on how businesses can avoid losses from theft of goods:

Use intelligence, including knowing where high-risk areas are located, what items are being demanded by criminals, and what time of day they usually attack
Install GPS/telecommunication devices on both trucks and tractors
Place drivers in groups, especially on high-value loads
Use high-end padlocks for the back door, king latch lock, … Plastic seals are not a security obstacle.
Parking in a safe location (i.e., having a gate or lock and enough light)
Technology also plays an important role for both sides. Many shoplifters are using technological methods, such as hacking, to gain access to their targets. According to Lewis, the technology allows thieves to attack faster and leaves no trail of difficulty for follow-up investigations. He said companies could use CargoNet’s AlertSearch and RouteSearch tools to prevent shipping theft. A sophisticated transportation management system uses algorithms to help identify any criminal activity, allowing companies to act earlier and deter threats.

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