IUMI Wants Action on Cargo Theft

file photo
file photo

Published Sep 17, 2019 5:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) has published a revision of its position paper on cargo theft prevention. Cargo crime has reached alarming proportions, says the IUMI, calling for action to minimize the risks. In particular, the IUMI says efforts by law enforcement agencies to increase transnational cooperation to combat cargo theft must be enhanced.  

Criminals are becoming increasingly innovative, going beyond direct theft from trucks and instead involving more sophisticated methods such as posing as legitimate transportation companies or jamming vehicle tracking systems.

In many cases, cargo crimes are not committed out of opportunity or as single incidents. The perpetrators are well-organised and highly professional and their operations cover every detail from the gathering of information by insiders to sales planning in case of “theft to order”. The criminal structures behind the thefts are increasingly transnational and online communication is becoming fundamentally important for the planning and execution of these operations. Online freight exchange platforms facilitate the ability for criminals to take on the identity of legitimate freight carriers, using their employees’ names, companies and logos to organize thefts of cargo offered for transport on those electronic freight platforms.

High-quality and high value goods are far from being the only target, says the IUMI. Today, there seems to be a market for almost any kind of stolen merchandise. These are no longer traded in a separate “black market” but increasingly through open electronic trading platforms.

IUMI's Policy Forum Chair, Helle Hammer, says: “Unfortunately, cargo theft continues to surge, and it is having a negative impact on supply chains and economies around the world. We are calling for improved preventative measures to be put in place. Cargo crimes are a large burden to society as the costs caused by stolen cargo, business interruption and loss of reputation do not simply disappear but are factored into the pricing of the products which are moved around the globe every minute of every day.”

A study conducted in Germany in 2018, estimated the direct losses caused by cargo theft from trucks to be EUR 1.3 billion with an additional EUR 900 million ($996 million) due to penalties for delays in delivery, repair costs as well as lost sales and business interruption. 

In 2008, an EU/Europol study, based on Transported Asset Protection Association's (TAPA) figures, estimated that the economic damage of cargo theft in Europe alone amounts to EUR 8.2 billion ($9.1 billion) per year. Even though there are no similar official studies in other areas of the world, the IUMI suggests that cargo thefts have a similar negative impact across all continents. 

“Cargo theft is often portrayed as a victimless crime,” says Hammer. “It is important to remember that cargo theft is not only a financial consideration but is also putting at risk the safety of the people working in the transport sector. Protecting their safety is vital.”

IUMI's position paper calls for the continuation of exchange of best practice across borders on local initiatives; establishing a dedicated cargo theft taskforce; training with a focus on cargo theft awareness and prevention; and enhanced due diligence by shippers, logistics/transportation companies when selecting agents and staff. 

The paper is available here.