Cargo crimes spread across 30 countries in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region in February and March, according to the latest data reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service.

Any thoughts that cargo thieves would be less active as the coronavirus swept across international borders was quickly dispelled by the 469 thefts from supply chains recorded over the two months, with several countries most affected by the virus seeing some of the highest rates of cargo losses.

Only 120 or 25.5% of incidents recorded by TAPA’s IIS in this period shared a loss value for the goods stolen, which resulted in a lower-than average number of major cargo thefts. Six were recorded overall, producing a total loss of €1,671,876 or an average of €278,646. For all incidents with a value the total rose to €2,952,303 or an average of €24,602.

Of the two-month total, 321 crimes were reported to TAPA EMEA in February and 148 in March.

The five major losses Vigilant is able to report involved losses of:


Thieves broke into a Services 3rd Party Facility in Stavenhagen, Saxony-Anhalt, in Germany on 7 March and forced entry into several vehicles before loading them with unspecified goods from the warehouse and driving away.    


The forced stop and hijacking of a truck carrying a shipment of electronics which was en route in Başakşehir in Greater Istanbul on 6 March. The offenders used a vehicle to hit the truck from behind. After the driver stopped, the hijackers took the three people onboard hostage and drove the truck to a nearby street, offloading the cargo onto their own vehicle before releasing the captive staff.


On 18 February, attackers smashed a window of an Origin Facility in Chauvugny in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of western France to gain access to the cargo stored inside, escaping with 1,450 items including lingerie, bathrobes and towels.   


26 pallets of beer were stolen on 24 March from a truck parked at a motorway service area near junction 25 of the M6 in Lymm, Cheshire, in the UK while the driver was asleep in his cab.   


The theft of a tractor unit and trailer as well as an excavator from a Railway Operation Facility in Ortona in Italy’s Abruzzo region on 18 February. Police later recovered the vehicle.

TAPA’s IIS also received reports of a further 10 incidents in February and March will loss values of between €50,000 and €100,000. The total loss value for these crimes produced an overall total and average value of €666,994 and €66,699 respectively. The individual incidents involved losses of:

·        €98,431 – 20 tonnes of pharmaceuticals stolen from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Schelkovo, Russia, on 7 February

·        €83,336 – Household appliances taken from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Chekhov in Russia’s Central Region on 3 February

·        €74,558 – Another loss from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Russia, this theft of 20 tonnes of butter was reported in Muslumovo in the Volga Region on 6 February

·        €72,000 – 180 coffee machines stolen after thieves cut a hole in the tarpaulin side of a truck parked at a rest area on the A8 in Rutesheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, on 5 February

·        €60,676 – A truck driver reportedly conspired with three others to steal a vehicle and shipment of cosmetics from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Ciftalan, Istanbul, Turkey, on 18 February

·        €60,000 – Police arrested a Polish truck driver in Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in Germany on 1 March as he was in the process of stealing a refrigerated truck

·        €57,352 – This case of fraud and deception recorded in Bekasova, Moscow, on 6 February resulted in the loss of a shipment of toys

·        €56,453 – A truckload of pharmaceuticals was stolen from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Moscow on 7 February after the driver unloaded the cargo in an unauthorised location at the request of an unknown individual

·        €54,188 – 20 tonnes of food and drink products, also stolen from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Moscow, on 5 February

·        €50,000 – An armed gang using a car and van targeted a vehicle delivering cigarettes to a Destination Facility in Busto Arsizio in the Lombardy region of Italy on 25 February. Three men carrying firearms attacked the driver before stealing 25 boxes of cigarettes

Germany recorded the highest number of cargo thefts in the IIS database in February and March with 137 crimes, followed by the United Kingdom with 112. Six other countries saw double-digit incident rates:

·        Netherlands – 75 incidents

·        Spain – 41

·        France – 18

·        Italy – 18

·        Russia – 16

·        South Africa – 10

In addition to South Africa, TAPA was notified of cargo losses from supply chains in a further nine countries in Africa during this two-month period: Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Togo.

Overall, 17 TAPA IIS product categories recorded cargo thefts in February and March, including six with double-digit losses:

·        Tobacco – 42 thefts

·        Food & Drink - 30

·        Clothing & Footwear – 16

·        Furniture/Household Appliances – 15

·        No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 15

·        Tools/Building Materials – 12

The majority of losses in this period involved Theft from Vehicle incidents, which accounted for 267 or 57.4% of all cases. Eight other types of incident recorded 10 or more crimes:

·        Theft from Trailer – 40 crimes or 8.6% of the Feb/Mar total

·        Theft of Vehicle – 39 or 8.3%

·        Theft – 24 or 5.1%

·        Fraud – 17 or 3.6%

·        Clandestine – 15 or 3.2%

·        Theft from Facility – 15 or 3.2%

·        Theft of Trailer – 15 or 3.2%

·        Truck Theft – 13 or 2.7%

Once again, unclassified parking was the IIS location featuring in the highest number of incident reports – 221 in total or 47.2% of the two-month total. The next three known locations were:

·        Destination Facility – 78 crimes or 16.6% of the total

·        En Route – 41 or 8.8%

·        Services 3rd Party Facility – 41 or 8.8%

Over half of cargo crimes recorded Intrusion as the modus operandi used by thieves, typically involving cutting the tarpaulin curtains or breaking open the rear door locks and seals of parked trucks. Also noticeable was the statistic for crimes with the M.O. of Violent or Threat with Violence, with the 42 incidents in this category representing 8% of the February-March total.

TAPA members can find more intelligence on these and other cargo crimes over these two months in the password-protected Incident Information Service (IIS) database.