Fourth of July weekend gives way to higher chance of cargo theft



Posted on 06/30/2017 by David Radke

Cargo thieves often go after trucks carrying food and beverages.

As June comes to an end, most of the country is looking forward to their Fourth of July plans. Independence Day is often a time to celebrate our nation among family, friends and fireworks. For some, though, a day of country-wide celebration is an opportunity for theft.

The potential for cargo theft on the holiday weekend spiked 120 percent compared to the rest of the year in 2015 and 2016, Commercial Carrier Journal reported. During these two years, the average loss was valued at $365,453 per theft.

Every year, the threat of theft emerges, though the timing of the holiday impacts how big a threat it really is. This year, the Fourth falls on a Tuesday, which means people will likely be celebrating for longer, beginning on Friday night with festivities carrying through to the date of the holiday itself. As such, this presents criminals with a larger window of opportunity than years when the Fourth lands closer to the weekend.

Looking for loot

Cargo thieves are crafty. Many work in organized groups that have scouted out routes and particular categories of cargo. The most popular commodity to target is food and beverage, according to Traveler's Insurance. About one-fourth of all cargo thefts, regardless of the time of year, involves edible goods.

Following food, electronics are the second-most sought after, comprising 15 percent of total cargo thefts. Though these aren't as common, the cost of stolen electronics can easily surpass that of food and beverage.

Next, home and garden items come in third, accounting for 12 percent of all stolen goods coming from cargo containers.

Drivers transporting items that fall into these categories should be particularly vigilant in their theft prevention strategies this weekend. However, that's not to say that a driver carrying, for example, clothing, auto parts or building supplies can let their guards down. In fact, one particularly expensive case of cargo theft occurred in Newport, Tennessee, when $1.3 million worth of apparel was taken over a Fourth of July weekend, according to CargoNet.

States of criminal activity

Cargo thieves are often well aware of where their target will be. As such, drivers should stay particularly alert if they know they'll be in an area that's notably prone to cargo theft.

Fleet Owner reported that California took the top spot in both the U.S. and Canada for most cargo thefts in the first quarter of this year. The Golden State was also the most targeted during past Fourth of July weekends, according to CargoNet. As such, any driver making his or her way through this West Coast state should be on the lookout for criminals.

Other states that see a disproportionate amount of cargo theft include:

  • Texas.
  • Florida.
  • Georgia.
  • Illinois.

Keeping cargo safe

Drivers on the road this holiday weekend can take a few actions to reduce the chances of cargo thieves successfully making away with their goods. First and foremost, cargo should never be left unattended. As soon as a watchful thief notices an unguarded truck, he or she may begin to move in for the crime.

Seven in 10 cargo thefts occur at unsecured parking lots, according to CCJ. As such, all loads should be staged at yards that are known to be secure.

Fleet services can install discreet trackers inside their cargo areas. This will alert them if the cargo goes outside of its expected route.

Finally, drivers should be sure to employ multiple locks at all times. Just one simple lock is easily circumvented by a cunning thief. A combination of rear door locks, kingpin locks and air cuff locks will be more effective in deterring a criminal.

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