Over €85m worth of products were stolen from air, sea, rail and road freight supply chains in the first half of 2020, according to a report.
The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) said over €52m of the loss total was attributed to 96 major incidents, with the average value of products stolen in these cases €542,761.
It said the activities of “opportunist, ad hoc cargo thieves” had reduced in the first six months of the year but intelligence indicated organised crime groups were “stealing to order”, due to the number of losses of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other in-demand goods such as food, drink, cosmetics and hygiene products.
“The supply and demand nature of the black market for stolen goods prompted a noticeable spate of thefts of PPE equipment as offenders looked to cash in on one of the most sought-after products to help fight the outbreak of the coronavirus,” the report said.
TAPA cited thefts in Spain, Kenya, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany and Sweden, where equipment such as face masks, respiratory masks, hand sanitiser, gowns and gloves were stolen.
Another item that was in short supply, toilet paper, was also a target for thieves, with 130,000 toilet rolls stolen from trailers in Walsall in the UK on 20 March.
The UK recorded the highest number of major cargo losses, reporting almost 64% of all crimes with a value of €100,000 or more. However, TAPA said the number was largely due to the high level of intelligence received from UK law enforcement agencies, rather than indicating the UK crime rate was significantly higher than in other countries in EMEA.
TAPA's top 10 highest value cargo thefts reported in the first half of 2020:
1. €8,788,000 – violent theft of computers and laptops from a truck in Nuneaton, UK, on 9 March.
2. €5,000,000 – theft of PPE equipment in Spain on 6 April.
3. €5,000,000 – 50 tractor units stolen from a transport company by a rival operator. Police intercepted seven of the vehicles, using false number plates, on 7 April as they were being driven from Murcia to Madrid to be sold.
4. €3,295,500 – theft of an HGV semi-trailer and its load of tobacco from a location in Daventry in the UK on 27 May.
5. €3,000,000 – offenders used forged documentation to arrange the deceptive pick-up of a shipment of phones from an aviation facility in Amsterdam on 14 March.
6. €2,000,000 – six offenders in two cars blocked a road in Nantes, France, to forcibly stop and hijack a truck carrying tobacco and cigarettes on 7 June.
7. €1,318,200 – thieves forced their way into a haulage yard in Haydock in the northwest region of the UK on 18 January before stealing a trailer loaded with alcohol products.
8. €1,144,805 – sporting goods stolen from a warehouse in Grimsby, UK, on 2 April.
9. €1,098,500 – clothing and footwear stolen from a facility in Lincolnshire, UK, on 30 March.
10. €1,033,877 – a truck carrying a shipment of phones from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was hijacked while en route to a warehouse facility on 10 April.
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