Cargo Theft in EMEA region up by 92.9%

Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

“The data reported by TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) only represents cargo crimes we have been able to record. We know the actual level of cargo crime is much higher, but accurate information is not always available.”

Cargo crimes in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region dramatically increased by 92.9 percent over a 12-month period with the value of stolen cargoes climbing up to €27,314,438 or about Dh113 million.

The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) said in Q2 of 2015 310 new cargo crimes were reported to TAPA EMEA’s Incident Information Service (IIS).

In Q2 2016, new cargo crimes reported rose to 598, producing a year-on-year increase of 92.9%.

TAPA’s IIS for three months ending in June, revealed a loss value of 43.1%, showing a combined value for stolen products of €19,334,815 and a significant rise on the €5,301,828 for the same period in 2015.

The Q2 2016 figure, when added to crimes with value in Q1 of this year, adds up to a loss of €27,314,438 (about Dh113 million) of products in EMEA in the first six months of this year, based on crimes reported to IIS.
Opportunists abound

TAPA’s EMEA Chairman Thorsten Neumann said there are many reasons as to why cargo theft is increasing.
Some freight thefts are the result of organised crime by criminal gangs, and there is no question they are extremely active. There is also more evidence of opportunist crimes by individuals.
So many factors can lead to cargo losses, including challenging economic conditions that fuel demand on the black market for products.

Cargo theft may also be rising because very few companies are taking the necessary precautions to protect their high value, attractive theft products in the supply chain.

“The data reported by TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) only represents cargo crimes we have been able to record. We know the actual level of cargo crime is much higher, but accurate information is not always available,” said Neumann, noting that some companies who may have victims of theft are sometimes reluctant to share intelligence.

“It is also true that many law enforcement agencies do not categorise losses from supply chains as cargo crime. Instead, police forces may record such thefts into more general crime categories such as vehicle crime or commercial property crime,” he added.

The official said law enforcement agencies and insurers are seriously monitoring the situation.
The sad reality, however, is that criminals are increasingly targeting cargoes.
“The bad news is that the increase reflects the fact that criminals are now targeting virtually all cargoes as opposed to say 5-10 years ago when their primary targets were goods with a high unit value, such as technology products,” the TAPA chairman said.

Consumer goods targeted

Thieves seem to be targeting high-value consumer goods which are easily sold to the black market.

Neumann said most of the stolen items, include food and drinks, furniture/household appliances, clothing and footwear, cosmetics and hygiene products, tools/ building materials, tobacco, car parts, tyres, metal, pharmaceuticals, computers/ laptops, toys/ games, phones, sports equipment, cash, bicycles, agricultural materials and jewellery/precious metals.

“These were all stolen either from warehouse facilities or trucks,” he pointed out.

Food and drink products are also targeted because they are quick and easy to sell on the black market and also, these items are quickly consumed as well.

EU as a target

With over 500 million consumers in the EU, the region is considered the largest collective economy in the world.
It is also home to many of the world’s top companies with massive logistics industry serving the market chain.

“So, just the size of the European supply chain makes it a target. Also, we regularly see cargo criminals crossing borders to commit crimes in other countries, which is much easier to do in Europe. This makes such incidents harder for police forces to investigate because multiple jurisdictions can be involved. Criminals know that too,” said Neumann.

If the cargo crimes continue to rise, Neumann said it would adversely affect the logistics industry.
“A cargo theft can have a very severe knock-on effect for companies and most of these effects come with added costs. Ultimately, these costs are likely to be fed back into the market through higher prices of products for consumers,” he said.

“The real risk to the cargo and logistics industry is to companies that ignore the threat of cargo crime because more and more manufacturers understand that cargo crime can be prevented by taking the best preventative measures, through the use of technology, by using crime intelligence, etc. The companies that show manufacturers they are proactively working to protect their goods in the supply chain and that are serious about supply chain security will increasingly prosper,” he added.

Safety measures

To further enhance in-house supply chain security programs, TAPA advises supply chains to have an excellent in-house program.

Many of the world’s leading manufacturers and logistics service providers are TAPA members because they can additionally benefit from the association’s industry-leading security standards for facilities and trucking operations as well as free training to help implement and maintain these standards, according to TAPA.
“They also get access to all of the intelligence we gather and, very importantly, they can network with hundreds of other supply chain security professionals to share their experiences and best practices. This all helps to minimise cargo losses,” said Neumann.

“Every day, cargo criminals are developing their knowledge and skills. They are becoming more technically-advanced as well as more daring and violent in their attempts to steal cargo. The job of supply chain security professionals is to try and stay one-step ahead of the criminals all the time and there is no question that TAPA helps to make this possible.”

Reduce theft in Q3

Companies are constantly working hard to achieve supply chain resilience and to lessen the threat of cargo crime.
Neumann further highlights that the vast majority of cargo crimes recorded by IIS do not involve TAPA members. They are incidents that are being suffered by companies currently outside the TAPA family.

“We know from previous benchmarking exercises that TAPA members are statistically far less likely to be a victim of a cargo crime.”

Neumann’s advice to Middle East cargo handlers is to not ignore the problem because it is not going to end though the recorded rate of cargo crime in the Middle East is low compared to Europe.

“I am sure most of your readers are also doing business all over the world, so they need to find out where cargo crimes are occurring, the types of incidents taking place and the tactics being used by criminals to steal from supply chains. I would also recommend to companies that they look to implement TAPA’s Security Standards because these will not only help to protect their customers’ business, it will also further enhance their reputations with their clients and hopefully, help them to win new business.

“Our members prevent theft by using TAPA’s security standards, training and intelligence to support their in-house security programmes. Most importantly, they are never complacent about a secure supply chain. You have to be alert to the threat 24/7,” he concludes.

About TAPA

Formed in 1997, to tackle the multi-billion euro problem of cargo thefts from the supply chain, TAPA now boasts of over 800 member companies globally.

TAPA’s mission is to minimize cargo losses from the supply chain through the development and application of global security standards, recognised industry practices, technology, education, benchmarking, regulatory collaboration and the proactive identification of crime trends and supply chain security threats.