Cargo Theft: What Are Your Risk Factors?

Published on August 23, 2016 by Tony Pelli

Evaluations of cargo theft risk have typically focused on geographic risk and cargo theft data – basically, how many cargo thefts have occurred in a specific place in the past. In some cases, however, there may be little or no data available. In other places, existing statistics may tell you very little about the risk to the specific product that you are carrying. What other factors are important to evaluate when assessing the risk of cargo theft?

Thinking Liquidity

The ‘liquidity’ of your product – the ease with which it can be resold – is a great indicator of cargo theft risk. Goods such as food and beverage items are virtually impossible to track, have hundreds of thousand potential points of sale, have expiration dates driving their quick sale by thieves and fences, and are consumed quickly, leaving no trace of the stolen products. Unsurprisingly, food and beverage was the most frequently-stolen commodity type in both the first and second quarter of 2016, according to BSI statistics. 

High-Value is High-Risk?

It’s important to note that the high value of a product doesn’t necessarily make it a high-risk product. Honda Civics and Accords, rather than BMWs, are the most frequently stolen cars simply because there are far more of them on the road and they’re less likely to have sophisticated anti-theft features. The same is true for cargo – there are just more trucks carrying consumer goods than computers and most thieves are opportunists. It’s also increasingly the case that even the simplest electronics are capable of connecting to the internet and being tracked after they’re stolen and resold.  

Considering factors like the ones discussed above can give you a completely different, but more accurate, picture of your cargo theft risk than just looking at country-level statistics.