In-transit cargo thefts decreased in 2020 while thefts from warehouses and other storage facilities grew worldwide, according to a 2020 annual cargo theft report from logistics insurance company TT Club and supply chain intelligence firm BSI, released this week.
Last year was an atypical year for cargo theft due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the report, which tracks cargo crime trends around the world. Growing stockpiles of products, new high-value targets such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and the potential for the vaccine supply chain to come under threat contributed to the strange year and are expected to shape trends in 2021 as well.
“The effects throughout 2020 of the Covid crisis threatened supply chain security, continuity and resilience,” said TT Club’s Mike Yarwood, managing director, loss prevention. “Not only did newly created high-value commodities such as PPE become targets for theft but bottlenecks in the logistics infrastructure at ports and warehouses brought increased potential risks. Temporary overflow storage facilities added to the dangers in loosening the grip of existing security systems.”
The authors said there have been no incidences of Covid-19 vaccine theft recorded yet, but cautioned that challenges may arise in the coming months. Some of the leading cargo theft trends from last year included the shift in location of thefts, with losses from warehouses rising to 25% of all thefts globally, from 10% last year. In-transit thefts still comprise the lion’s share of cargo crimes, accounting for 71%, down from 87% in 2019. This shift is due to supply chain disruptions from the pandemic and changing consumer buying behaviors, which contributed to congestion at ports and warehouses around the world.
Stockpiling of goods led to a considerable increase in warehouse theft in Europe, in particular, where 48% of thefts came from warehouses and production facilities last year compared to 18% in 2019. In Asia, theft from storage facilities remained at about 50%, and in North America, in-transit theft remained the primary problem, with cargo theft occurring almost exclusively from hijackings and thefts directly from parked vehicles in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Thieves in the U.S. and Canada tend to most frequently steal shipments of goods by targeting cargo trucks parked in insecure locations; hijackings are more common in Mexico, according to the report.
The report predicts a tough year ahead as the global economy struggles to recover from the pandemic.
“In the coming year, disruption and the uneven resumption of international trade resulting from the spread of Covid will continue with imbalances in shipping container distribution that are likely to impact maritime, and through a knock-on effect air cargo capacity throughout 2021,” the report authors said. “The added vulnerability of cargo will therefore continue.”The full report is available for download at TT Club’s website.