Report: Threat of cargo theft remains high in U.S.

March 6, 2014
More than 950 incidents of crime recorded across the country last year

In its recently released United States Cargo Theft Report for 2013, FreightWatch International found that a total of 951 incidents of cargo theft occurred throughout the country last year, the same amount that was recorded the year prior. FreightWatch said that the last two years have seen the highest levels of cargo theft incidents on record in the U.S. and the threat will only continue to grow due to increased organization and innovation by thieves.

Some of the cargo theft trends identified in the report include:

  • Full-truckload pharmaceutical thefts jumped by 50 percent.
  • Driver thefts increased by 44 percent.
  • Food/drinks thefts rose by over 34 percent. Thefts of several product subtypes, such as seafood and nuts, more than doubled.
  • Thefts targeting the electronics sector surged by nearly 36 percent in California.
  • New Jersey experienced a 158 percent jump in food/drinks thefts, with an unusual concentration on seafood.
  • Southwest Dallas became a new hijacking hotspot.
  • While cargo theft plunged in Pennsylvania, the rate of pharmaceutical theft in the state soared above the national average. 

Of the 951 cargo thefts reported, FreightWatch found that 691 (over 72 percent) were full-truckload or container thefts while 65 (just under 7 percent) were less-than-truckload losses. Only slightly more than 1 percent of these cargo theft incident involved violence.

While thefts of pharmaceuticals had seen a decrease in volume and average value of full-truckload losses since 2010, that changed in 2013 as those totals increased by 50 percent and 14 percent respectively. And although they have frequently been targeted in the past, theft of food/drink cargo shipments also spiked last year by more than 34 percent over the previous year. FreightWatch attributed the increase in these thefts to low security and said that it might be an indication of organized cargo thieves substituting harder types of shipments to steal, such as electronics, with easier ones.

Another major trend highlighted in the report was a sharp increase in driver thefts, which involves either direct thefts by the driver or their collusion or complicity in the crime. There were 44 driver thefts recorded in 2013, according to the report, representing a 76 percent increase over 2012 and a staggering 389 percent increase over 2011. Despite this increase, however, driver thefts only accounted for 4.6 percent of total thefts in 2013.

Although the volume of cargo thefts remains high, the average loss value per incident actually reached a new all-time low in 2013, coming in at just over $171,000 per incident.

To download a copy of the full report, visit