Though pharmaceuticals and electronics are the most expensive items cargo thieves target, food and beverage cargo is also popular because this product is often not secured as well as bigger ticket items, according to Keith Lewis, vice president of operations at CargoNet.
Lewis’ unit, which operates out of Jersey City, N.J., analyzes data from across the country providing alerts and reports to client carriers.
California tops the list for cargo thieves, who target the two ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles, as well as the many trucking companies operating out of Orange County — more than any other county in the U.S.
Other top states for cargo theft are: Texas; Florida; New Jersey; Illinois; and Georgia.
Chicago, Ill., is vulnerable due to its port on Lake Michigan, combined with a high amount of organized and street crime.
“You’ve got a lot of pharmaceuticals and electronics stored there and shipped out of there,” Lewis said in an interview with Claims Journal’s Denise Johnson.
Container rail theft is a big concern, as well, because major railroads have hubs in Chicago.
Though pharmaceuticals and electronic cargo are targeted the most, just like with regular commodities, seasonal variations impact cargo theft. According to Lewis, the Christmas season starts around August or September.
“There are different types of crime rings which tie in to the different types of the commodities that are stolen,” Lewis said.
Organized crime rings are likely to blame for high value cargo theft, Lewis said.
Unless the theft happened inside the carrier’s terminal, the truck’s driver should be considered as a potential suspect in the crime. If the driver is not involved, it could be the result of his or her negligence.
“The person who called 911 is the person I want to talk to first,” Lewis said.
Start with the driver, the person who last touched the freight, he said. Follow the evidence, it will either lead to a “loose knit group of three guys that decided to steal some freight tonight or it was an organized group that methodically plotted, did surveillance, used GPS, had specific types of tools for the crime.”
According to Lewis, because there are so few arrests there is currently no system in place to track cargo thefts committed by organized crime rings.
Listen to the full podcast interview with Keith Lewis.