National cargo theft crime reporting system planned

Reporting will be voluntary at first, making theft numbers harder to quantify

The cargo theft crisis was first realized in Marion County in 1999, when Sheriff Ed Dean kept seeing reports of 18-wheeler loads being swiped from area truck stops. He assigned Bibb to investigate. They soon learned Marion County led the state in the number of thefts.

They later teamed up with Dade County cargo theft officials, who operated the nation's first multi-agency task force. They formed the nation's first statewide cargo theft task force, which now includes officers with the Florida Highway Patrol, Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies.

The Florida task force's name recently was changed to the National Commercial Vehicle and Cargo Theft Prevention Task Force, the first and only one of its kind.

"I have been impressed," Dean said of the attendance, adding the speakers were all valued experts in a variety of fields, including trucking companies, insurance companies and law enforcement.

Copyright (c) 2008, Ocala Star-Banner, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.