Special Analysis Service

Cargo Safety

cargo security and escort

The Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) has released alarming statistics: the number of cargo stolen in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is increasing. Despite the fact that TAPA information covers a vast (geographically) region, most thefts, unfortunately, occur precisely in Europe. Statistics show that not only geography is expanding, but also the scale of theft.

Experts argue that the aggravation of the situation was largely influenced by illegal immigrants, who, as has been said many times, do not miss the opportunity not only to use trucks as means to transport their dream country, but also to profit from what they find in the cargo compartments.

Cases of Intellectual Theft Increased

Darius Bivainis, Head of the Cargo, Equipment and Warranty Insurance Department at ErgoLietuva, noted that recently cases of cargo theft have become more frequent. Not only carriers, but also freight forwarders suffer from kidnappers. The expert also noted that recently the theft of goods began to have an “intellectual” character – the kidnappers act in organized groups, expertly forge cargo documents or documents of carriers, and in such a fraudulent way “take” goods in an unknown direction. D. Bivainis says that today, this type of theft makes up 25% of reported cases. Moreover, it is very difficult to track such thefts, since the organizers in their schemes are hiding behind really existing companies that do not carry out any activities. If during the last recession, Latvian, Romanian, Bulgarian or Lithuanian companies were involved in such schemes, now this method is observed in the South European countries – in Italy and Spain. There are cases when Greek companies resorted to such a scheme.

Precautions should be taken at the initial stage of communication with the carrier, forwarder or consignor. It is impossible to blindly believe oral information – it is much better, even necessary, to seek information from transport exchanges. Reviews of colleagues, rating, opinions on the forum will help you create an objective idea about a new partner and make the right decision. We must not forget that “intellectual” thefts do not occur without prior preparation – on the contrary, the kidnappers study their victims very carefully. Also, do not forget that “elite” robbers often outbid small companies with a good history, change owners and company management, and so your former reliable partner may one day become your archenemy.

Nuts worth a million: robbers are interested in easy-to-sell goods

Robbers are most interested in food and drink. If someone thinks that these products are inexpensive, you can cite an example when a lot of hazelnuts worth a million euros were stolen in Piedmont (Italy). It should be noted that such products are easy to sell and difficult to identify, so criminals are targeting just such cargoes. Criminals are also interested in such goods as household appliances, electronics, alcoholic beverages, clothes, shoes, and tobacco products.

Sometimes criminals go for very serious “operations”. So, in Italy, on the way to the city of Arezzo (Tuscany region), a cargo of jewelry and precious metals worth 4 million euros was stolen. Despite the fact that the cargo was in an armored truck, the criminals managed to steal it. Fortunately, a truck was found (although some of the cargo was missing). In Sweden, near Helsingborg, an expensive (worth 157,996 euros) truck was stolen. In the UK, in West Sussex, a consignment of computer equipment worth 142,883 euros was stolen from a truck on an unguarded site. In West Midland (UK), criminals armed with baseball bats attacked a truck driver, threw him out of the cab and stole a car with a load of alcoholic drinks worth 117,965 euros.

The nature of such crimes takes on increasingly serious forms. According to D. Bivainis, there were more cases of attacks on cars at night, when drivers rest. Criminals stun drivers with gas and load goods into other cars. So, criminals can steal 4-5 tons of cargo in one night. If earlier such cases were rare, now, according to D. Bivainis, they have become almost commonplace.

No protection - no compensation!

It is important to pay attention to the fact that 47.7% of thefts occur in unguarded territories. D. Bivainis mentioned cases when drivers arrived at the place of unloading, but consignees did not meet them there. Then the drivers disconnected the semi-trailers with goods and left them at the places of arrival, and they themselves went for other orders. Fixed, unattended semitrailers became easy prey for burglars. It should be noted that in such cases CMR insurance may not save – if the cargo is not insured against risk caused by gross negligence, such cases can be recognized as uninsured and you will not receive insurance payments.

Therefore, you need to make sure that your car is parked in a secure area. Unfortunately, the guarded site also does not guarantee absolute security. The TAPA report mentions a case where an “landing” of illegal immigrants got into a truck parked on a guarded site. Signs of hacking of the semi-trailer (including broken seals) were carefully masked.

D. Bivainis says that now carriers are increasingly including insurance against risk arising from gross negligence in insurance contracts. This means that the carrier will not receive insurance payment if it is established that the cargo was damaged as a result of the deliberate actions of the carrier. For damage caused as a result of theft on an unguarded site, the insurance payment will be paid, however, with the use of an increased deductible amount.

How to fight?

D. Bivainis says that the precautions that insurers offer carriers can be very effective and virtually eliminate the possibility of theft.

First, carriers must plan their routes very responsibly. This means that during the trip, the car driver must stop only in safe places, not spend the night in industrial areas and near the territories of consignees, where, as already mentioned, a large number of thefts occur. This is especially important not to forget when traveling to Italy and Spain.

Secondly, for the protection of tented semi-trailers, it is necessary to use a security system for the outer perimeter of the semi-trailer. When “uninvited guests” appear, an alarm is activated, notifying the driver and others. D. Bivainis says that with the help of such equipment, those carriers who installed it on their cars protected themselves from a significant number of thefts.

Thirdly, in the fight against intellectual burglars, it is necessary to carefully check the personal documents of the persons who receive the goods, and the entries in the CMR invoice. At the slightest suspicion, you should immediately contact the managers and clarify whether there are changes in the route, unloading address, etc.

Fourth, check partners before starting transportation. As already mentioned, the kidnappers have many different schemes. Do not neglect the “sixth sense” if something bothers you. It’s better to make sure once again that your partner is who he claims to be (that is, he is in constant contact with you, pays bills, does not offer you suspicious transactions or unrealistic freight, etc.).

Those who travel to the UK, D. Bivainis advises to think about the voluntary inspection of trucks. For a small fee, your car will be checked in France, and if illegal immigrants are found in the car, they will be dropped off right away, and you will go to the UK without the risk of being fined. As TAPA points out, approximately three hundred illegal immigrants land in trucks during three hours of such inspections.

The article was written on the materials of the portal https://www.cargonews.lt/en/