Incidents of cargo crime reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region in April reveal both the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on quelling criminal operations as well as the continued proactive response of law enforcement agencies to arrest suspects believed to be involved in these crimes.

Two €5,000,000 incidents dominated the monthly data, both occurring in Spain.

In the first case, police arrested a businessman in north west Spain suspected of being involved in the theft of two million face masks and other medical equipment from a medical supplies warehouse in the region. According to a report to TAPA’s IIS on 6 April, the operators of the facility, which was storing a large quantity of medical equipment – including masks, surgical gloves and personal protective equipment (PPE) – are currently in bankruptcy. The offender reportedly removed the products from their protective plastic boxes to help conceal the theft, leaving only 1,000 face masks in the warehouse.

The suspect is said to have been spotted on security cameras outside the facility, where he reportedly also held a meeting with a Portuguese buyer. Spanish police are now cooperating with the Portuguese authorities to try to identify the buyer.

The second €5m crime involved the audacious theft of 50 trucks from a transport company in Spain, allegedly by representatives of a rival firm which shared the same headquarters building and vehicle parking.

After an administrator from the company suffering the loss alerted police to the vehicle thefts, officers located 43 units which had been illegally acquired; 39 in Almeria and 4 in Madrid. They then intercepted another seven vehicles as they were being driven from Murcia to Madrid to be sold on. Reports say the truck’s original Bulgarian licence plates had been covered over with Spanish registrations.       

TAPA’s IIS also recorded two other seven-figure cargo thefts last month:


Police were called to an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in Grimsby in the United Kingdom on 2 April after a large quantity of sports equipment was discovered to have been stolen. Two people have since been arrested.


Offenders hijacked a truck carrying a shipment of phones as it was en route from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to a warehouse facility in Kenya. The empty truck was later found abandoned on 10 April.

For other major cargo losses were recorded during the month:


The theft of a vehicle and its cargo of chocolate, food and cleaning products on 16 April from an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in Salon-de-Provence, France. According to the intelligence report, the driver was waiting to unload his cargo when armed offenders forced him to move the truck to a remote area nearby. There, they unloaded around half of the cargo from the truck before setting off a fire extinguisher in the cab of the truck and letting the vehicle slide into a canal.


On 8 April, thieves escaped with a trailer loaded with clothing and footwear products following a deceptive pick-up from a Road Transportation Facility in Barking, London, in the UK. They entered the haulage yard in their own tractor unit before hooking up the trailer and driving away.  


A high value Theft from Moving Vehicle crime saw offenders steal five pallets of cigarettes from a truck in Krefeld in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The loss was discovered when the vehicle reached its destination, having made no stops while en route.


Diesel engines, a forklift truck, a mobile welding fume extractor and a mobile toolbox were taken after two offenders entered an Origin Facility site in Malden in Gelderland in the Netherlands on 23 April. In broad daylight, they loaded the equipment onto their own vehicle before leaving the premises. The incident was captured on CCTV. 

Overall, TAPA EMEA was notified of 93 cargo theft incidents in April with a combined loss value of €12,805,672.

The eight major incidents during the month produced an average loss of €1,581,840, while the average value of the 24 or 25.5% of all crimes sharing financial data was €533,569.

In the €50,000-€100,000 value range, only one crime was reported to TAPA’s IIS. This involved a €60,000 loss of a refrigerated trailer with no load from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Heidenau, Saxony, Germany, on 18 April. 

Other incidents of note last month included:

  • On 10 April, offenders cut the power supply to a facility in Timisoara, Romania, to disable the alarm and then waited four hours before entering to ensure there was no security response. They destroyed CCTV security cameras outside and inside the building before stealing €20,000 of tools/building materials. Police later arrested suspects, including an individual who had received the stolen goods
  • On 4 April in Magliano Sabina in the Italian region of Latium, located about 50 kilometres north of Rome, a truck was stopped at what appeared to be a civil protection checkpoint before one of three masked offenders pointed a pistol at the driver and forced him out of the truck. The offenders then searched the truck and stole €5,000 in cash before escaping in a white car
  • On 9 April, a driver was found dead in his truck at an unclassified parking location off a highway in Aspropyrgos in Greece. No further information is available


According to reported data, cargo crimes were committed in 18 countries in the EMEA region in April, with only Germany and the United Kingdom recording double-digit incident rates of 36 and 27 crimes respectively.

Over 40% of product losses were classified as either miscellaneous or unspecified goods. Of the 14 TAPA IIS product categories suffering losses during the month, the next highest were:

·        Food & Drink – 12 losses or12.9% of the April total

·        Tools/Building Materials – 10 or 10.8%

·        Pharmaceuticals – 7 or 7.5% 

·        Tobacco, No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer), Cosmetics & Hygiene, and Furniture/Household Appliances, which each recorded 4 incidents

Three types of incidents saw 10 or more crimes:

  • Theft from Vehicle – 33 or 35.5%
  • Theft from Facility – 21 or 22.6%
  • Theft of Vehicle – 10 or 10.8%

Unclassified Parking Location and Destination Facility were the two most common locations of cargo thefts in April, both recorded 21 or 22.6% of the monthly total.