Thieves targeted trucks, trailers and last-mile delivery vans ©  Carl De Souza/Getty Images
Thieves targeted trucks, trailers and last-mile delivery vans © Carl De Souza/Getty Images

€172m worth of goods stolen from supply chains in 2020

22 April 2021

Nearly €500,000 worth of goods was stolen every day from EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) supply chains in 2020 – despite many countries being under lockdown for much of the year.

Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) recorded 6,463 cargo thefts across 56 countries in the region despite widespread lockdowns, with average daily losses of €471,432.

Total losses amounted to €172m and TAPA warned these figures were likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thorsten Neumann, president and CEO of TAPA EMEA, said: “At a time when most businesses were focused almost entirely on a fight for survival, and law enforcement agencies faced the added pressure of policing new government lockdowns, traditional channels of cargo crime data were, as expected, also severely impacted.

“However, while some criminal operations would have been disrupted by lockdown measures, 2020 still saw the second-highest rate of incidents in TAPA’s 24-year history.”

Neumann said only 65.1% of organisations reporting thefts to TAPA EMEA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) shared financial data – partly due to pandemic-related disruptions.

“Had we been able to maintain the same level of data sharing from LEAs [law enforcement agencies] across the region as we achieved in 2019, I am certain 2020 would have set a new record for cargo crimes in the EMEA region,” Neumann said.

Even in years when data is more complete, most cargo thefts during road, ocean, air and rail transportation are still not reported by victims to the incident database, he added.

While the UK and Germany accounted for 74% of cases, with 3,100 and 1,727 crimes respectively, the statistics “more accurately reflect the proactive sharing of cargo crime data by British and German law enforcement agencies”, said the report.

Among factors driving the thefts in 2020 were widespread reports of product shortages and empty supermarket shelves.

Cargo thieves were quick to target shipments of PPE as shortages loomed.

In one break-in to a facility in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in April 2020 PPE equipment worth €5m was stolen.

Trucks, trailers and last-mile delivery vans were the most popular targets for cargo thieves. TAPA EMEA called for the creation of 2,000 secure truck parking sites and over 400,000 parking places in the region to prevent vehicles being robbed at unsecured locations including roadside laybys, truck stops and motorway service areas.

“The lack of secure truck parking, especially in Europe, was identified in over half of all crime reports to TAPA’s IIS in 2020,” the report said.

The highest number of violent attacks took place in South Africa, followed by the UK, Spain and France.

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