€17.4 MILLION THEFT OF JEWELLERY IS ANOTHER DAZZLING DISPLAY OF SOUTH AFRICA’S CARGO CRIME EPIDEMIC

As if newly-released cargo crime intelligence by the South African Police Service (SAPS), reported earlier in this issue, was not enough of a reminder of the risks to supply chains across the country, reports to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) in August proved this beyond any doubt, with four crimes alone producing a total loss of nearly €18 million.

Just weeks after TAPA EMEA’s regional conference in South Africa highlighted the support the Association can offer to companies trying to increase the resilience of their supply chains, August’s data shows four major losses in a single month, including one substantial theft of €17,440,800 of high value jewellery from an Origin Facility in Sandton, Gauteng province, on 9 August.

According to media reports on the crime, the thieves forced their way into a luxury goods warehouse and overpowered the staff, destroying the building’s security doors in the process, before escaping with diamonds, earrings, necklaces and watches.

With the investigation ongoing, one of the key questions to be answered by police is why the facility’s CCTV cameras were reportedly not working at the time of the crime.

The three other major losses recorded by TAPA’s IIS in South Africa last month included:

€199,808

The deceptive stop and hijacking of a truck which was en route on the R21 in Irene, south of Pretoria, on 27 August. Two of the four men who stopped the truck at the side of the motorway were dressed in police uniforms, according to IIS intelligence. After removing the driver from the vehicle, the offenders drove off in the truck, which was pulling two trailers loaded with beverages. However, the quick-thinking driver had activated a security tracker before stopping his vehicle, which, ultimately, resulted in the truck being recovered by police officers.

€160,020

Chemicals were stolen from a Maritime Transportation Facility in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on 1 August. The cargo was taken to a warehouse in a nearby town, Cato Ridge, where the thieves are believed to have changed the packaging in order to sell the chemicals on the grey market for farming or industrial use.  

€112,535

In Port Elizabeth on 19 August, a vehicle carrying a load of copper was hijacked by a group of offenders wearing reflective jackets and standing next to a white vehicle with a blue light, who flagged down the truck. Tragically, according to the IIS incident report, they shot and killed the driver before fleeing in the vehicle, which was later recovered by police, along with the cargo, using the   truck’s GPS tracker.

 

Other crimes reported to TAPA in South Africa in August included:

·         The hijacking and subsequent recovery of a truck carrying brass tubing. Police also recovered a 12-channel signal jammer

·         Theft of a shipment of cigarettes after thieves carrying guns and travelling in eight white vehicles used a jamming device to conceal the theft of a vehicle

·         The loss of furniture/household appliances after thieves ransacked a Services 3rd Party Facility in Port Elizabeth after detaining staff at gunpoint

·         The murder of a truck guard after thieves opened fire on a vehicle transporting computers/laptops on the N4 in Akasia, Pretoria, on 14 August

·         Bystanders injured after offenders exchanged fire with guards in a cash-in-transit vehicle in Middelburg

·         The hijacking of a brewery truck by five men in Alberton on 1 August     

TAPA has been asked not to publish information on the two other major cargo losses with a value of €100,000 or more, although the Association’s members have access to the incident intelligence in the password-protected IIS database. The six major crimes produced a total loss of €19,538,163 for the month or an average of €3,256,360.

Overall, in August, up to when Vigilant went to press, TAPA’s IIS had recorded 173 new cargo crimes during the month in 11 countries in the EMEA region. The total loss for the 34 or 19.6% of these crimes stating a value was €20,470,612, producing an average for these incidents of €602,076.

Nine of these crimes saw losses of between €50,000 and €100,000 and resulted in combined and average losses of €684,852 and €76,094 respectively. They were:

·         €99,366 - On 26 August, offenders reportedly bribed a truck driver delivering 410 portable generators and 560 four litre drums of oil to divert his truck to Oyo state in Nigeria

·         €87,329 – 21,500 kilos of avocadoes where stolen from a vehicle in Gameren in the Netherlands on 9 August 

·         €86,772 – Fraud and deception was used to steal 20 metres of cable while it was en route in Pskov in the North West region of Russia. The driver was reportedly told to unload the cargo at an unauthorised location by an unknown person

·         €80,000 – A full truckload of tyres and rims disappeared from an Origin Facility in Sehnde, Germany, on 22 August after thieves entered a warehouse and stole a semi-trailer 

·         €80,000 – Two empty cargo trucks were set on fire at the rear of a Services 3rd Party Facility in Bielefeld, Germany, on 8 August  

·         €73,929 – Another case of fraud in Russia resulted in the loss of a shipment of non-ferrous metal in St. Petersburg on 2 August

·         €66,000 – 33 pallets of solar panels were reported stolen in Oldenzaal in the Netherlands, although no other information was recorded

·         €61,456 – A deceptive pick-up of a shipment of clothing and footwear from an Origin Facility in St. Petersburg

·         €50,000 – The theft of furniture/household appliances from a truck in an unclassified parking location in Sittard in the Netherlands on 1 August

Five countries recorded double-digit losses in the IIS database in August:

·         France – 60 incidents

·         Netherlands – 48

·         South Africa – 17

·         United Kingdom – 16

·         Russia – 15

Over 50% of the goods stolen were recorded as either unspecified or miscellaneous but, of the 14 TAPA IIS product categories suffering losses during the month, the top five were:

·         Food & Drink – 18 losses   Tobacco – 11

·         No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 10

·         Furniture/Household Appliances – 9

·         Tools/Building Materials – 8 

The majority of incidents involved cases of Theft from Vehicle, 112 crimes or 64.8% of the August total. Only two other types of incident recorded more than 10 crimes:

·         Fraud – 14 crimes

·         Theft of Vehicle – 12

Freight thefts involving trucks in unclassified parking locations accounted for 89 or 51.5% of last month’s crime reports.   

In France, all but four of the cargo crimes reported in August involved Theft from Vehicle crimes, and virtually all of these took placed in unclassified parking locations. Multiple incidents were recorded in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Centre-Val de Loire, Grand Est and Hauts-de-France. Curtain-cutting remained the most reported M.O. recorded in the Netherlands, mostly targeting trucks in unclassified parking places. Hotspots included parking sites on the A73, A67 and A2 and involved losses of computers/laptops, tools/building materials, wine, and cosmetic and hygiene products.

14 of the 15 crimes in Russia involved cases of Fraud and losses of metal, tobacco, food and drink, tools/building materials and clothing and footwear. Tobacco was also a frequent target for cargo thieves in the United Kingdom, with eight losses. In Manchester, two men with knives followed a member of staff into an Origin Facility and escaped with ‘tens of thousands of drugs’ while, in Ledbury in Hertfordshire, several individuals broke into a warehouse on 26 August and stole eight lorries loaded with 3,500 bottles of cider.

One other loss of life was recorded by TAPA last month after police in Rombo, Kenya, opened fire at the driver of a stolen truck after he refused to stop.