Supply chain disruptions are windows of opportunity for criminals ©  Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images
Supply chain disruptions are windows of opportunity for criminals © Thatree Thitivongvaroon/Getty Images

Prepare for a spike in supply chain thefts

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
4 June 2020

Supply chain managers should prepare for a spike in cargo thefts as lockdown restrictions are eased, a trade body has warned.

The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) said thefts had dropped during the lockdown but this would change “as cargo thieves get back to business”.

TAPA said supply chain disruptions were “windows of opportunity” for criminals because disrupted shipments move along unfamiliar routes and through different hubs “where risks might not be fully known or assessed and transit times are longer”.

Thorsten Neumann, president and CEO of TAPA EMEA, said: “OCGs [organised crime groups], in particular, will be looking to make up for lost ‘income’ during this period and this is likely to result in much higher risks for the transport and logistics industry, with trucks remaining most vulnerable to attack.

“Congestion at hubs is also generating risks, for example truck drivers often don’t have time to get to safe parking places because they waited so long to load.

“Supply chains are being stretched, traceability is more challenging, and there is a greater risk of cybercrime as a consequence of more home-based employees and greater systems exposure. These factors are going to test the resilience of every supply chain.”

TAPA received reports of more than 400 thefts of products from supply chains between 1 March and 29 May 2020, valued at more than €16.4m, across 37 countries in the EMEA region. This included theft of 2m face masks in Spain, sports equipment in the UK and mobile phones in Kenya.

In the same period of 2019 there were more than 2,500 thefts with a total value of more than €33m.

“Companies should expect to see a spike in cargo crimes impacting every mode of transport over the rest of 2020 as cargo thieves get back to business,” said Neumann. “Last year, we recorded regular attacks on products carried via air cargo, ocean freight, road freight and rail freight, and this will continue unless companies take steps to protect themselves and their clients.”

In 2019 TAPA recorded a total of 8,548 cargo thefts in 48 EMEA countries, up 114.7% year-on-year and the highest total in the organisation’s 23-year history.

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