Cargo Theft Trends in Canada – Part 1 of 2

Cargo theft in Canada is a serious issue that costs the economy approximately $5 billion a year according to research from the Canadian Trucking Alliance. While these substantial losses directly affect businesses, trucking companies and insurers, they ultimately impact consumers who have to pay higher prices for goods.

Over the past decade cargo crime has evolved from a crime of opportunity to a more sophisticated and targeted crime perpetrated by large criminal enterprises. This evolution has had a broader impact on society, as organized criminals have developed distribution networks to quickly move goods to a black market economy, helping fund organizations that engage in narcotics and illegal firearms trade, among other activities. With the high value of goods being transported, cargo theft is a low risk crime with a high reward.

4 recent trends in cargo theft include:

  1. Organized crime – Cargo thieves work together by following cargo loads as they travel from city to city or even hire commercial drivers.
  2. Truck stops – Cargo thefts often occur at truck stops when criminals are able to target the cargo left unattended by the driver.
  3. Warehouse burglary – Criminals target products stored at warehouses that lack proper security and monitoring.
  4. Deceptive pick up – Cargo thieves are hiring their own drivers, who will pick up the cargo using fake identification and forged documents.

With the launch of the National Cargo Theft Reporting Program, a collaborative effort among the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), Northbridge Insurance and other insurance carriers and law enforcement agencies, there has been a push for greater awareness of the risks of cargo crime and better data collection. The results have been quicker reporting, investigation and recovered property being returned to victims.

Quick facts on property crime:

  • $500k of property disappears daily in the Greater Toronto Area1
  • 70% of losses occur from Friday to Monday morning2
  • Top 3 thefts by product type: Food/Drink, Home/Garden and Electronics3
  • 98% of cargo crime is nonviolent4
  • Over 500 Alert Bulletins on cargo theft sent by IBC in 2015

Our next blog article will look at how we work with our clients to help manage the risks surrounding cargo theft with some input from our underwriting and claims experts.

Jim Park, “Cargo Crime: Trucking’s other dirty little secret“, Today’s Trucking (27 February 2010).
Donald Horne, Cargo security takes a hit on holiday weekends, Insurance Business Canada (4 July 2014).
FreightWatch International Supply Chain Intelligence Center, 2013 Global Cargo Theft Threat Assessment.
Donald Horne, Cargo security takes a hit on holiday weekends, Insurance Business Canada (4 July 2014).

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