Cargo Thefts Will Add to Supply Chain Woes Through 2022 — Electronics and Refrigerated Trucks Become Latest Targets

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As the holiday season approaches and supply chain disruptions persist, manufacturers and retailers are facing another challenge: cargo theft.

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CargoNet, a division of Verisk Analytics that tracks supply chain thefts, revealed that $45 million in cargo thefts were reported from January 2021 through September 2021. This contrasts with $68 million in cargo theft throughout all of 2020.

Thieves are now targeting more expensive items, such as electronics and refrigerated food, compared to 2020 when they stole toilet paper and personal protective equipment (PPE). Pre-pandemic, only $49 million worth of cargo was stolen throughout all of 2019. CargoNet predicts that the high theft rates will continue through 2022.

“What we’re going to see next year is probably going to be similar to what we’re going to see this year, as far as electronics and the same type of commodities,” CargoNet’s Keith Lewis told CBS News. “I don’t see us coming out of that for a few years.”

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As a result of the thefts, the price of electronics such as smartphones, video game consoles and televisions could rise even higher for consumers as the supply drops. On the East Coast, CBS reported, thefts of refrigerated food have been on the rise, which could lead to even higher prices at the grocery store.

The bulk of cargo theft isn’t coming from piracy on the high seas or attacks on ports or rail yards. Instead, thieves are pilfering merchandise from parked trucks as they stop on their way to a warehouse or distribution center. That means the actual cost of cargo thefts could be much higher, since pilferage is harder to track. Drivers often don’t noticed good missing until they reach their final destination, especially if it was only a portion of a pallet or a few items stolen. Without knowing where on the route the theft occurred, truck drivers don’t know where to report the theft.

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States leading the way in cargo theft are California, Texas and Florida, with reports of hundreds of incidents in all three states, according to the CargoNet report.

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Last updated: November 2, 2021


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