October 2016 saw 223 new cargo thefts reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS), a rise of more than 159% over the same month a year ago.

223 cargo crimes recorded in October 2016 with a reported loss value of €5,960,908 represents a 159.3% increase year-on-year

2011 was the first full year that TAPA EMEA started to publish monthly Incident Information Service (IIS) data in Vigilant and in October 2011 the number of recorded cargo loss incidents stood at 20. Fast forward five years and, last month, 223 new freight thefts were reported and added to the IIS database.

In the last issue of Vigilant, TAPA reported that based on recorded cargo crimes in the first nine months of this year, 2016 was on course to set a new six-year high. October data means this is now officially the worst year for recorded cargo thefts in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region since 2011, taking the year-to-date total beyond the 1,515 incidents reported to IIS in 2015.

The 223 new cargo crimes recorded by TAPA’s IIS in October occurred in 12 countries in the region. 102 or 45.7% gave a loss value, producing a total of €5,960,908 and an average loss for the month of €58,440.

Every incident reported to IIS provides vital intelligence for TAPA members and helps them to identify new trends and plan their supply chains to minimise the risk of losses. October data, for example, reveals:

  • Three violent thefts in one day in Milan with a combined loss of €600,000
  • A series of tyre thefts in the UK and Germany
  • Criminals dressed as ‘police’ officers in Italy to hijack a truck
  • The constant threat of overnight ‘curtain cutting’ when trucks and drivers stop at unsecured parking locations

IIS is a constant source of supply chain crime intelligence. TAPA members can interrogate the database by:


·        Time periods

·        Country

·        Location    

·        Incidents

·        Products

·        M.O


The password-protected online IIS tool also produces route maps showing i.e. the types of cargo crime incidents occurring between origin and destination points. Members can also generate heat maps that show the intensity of freight thefts in countries and regions across EMEA.


The highest value loss in October 2016 followed a familiar pattern for cargo crimes, particularly in the United Kingdom, and emphasises why unsecured parking locations can represent such rich pickings for cargo thieves. In this incident on 6 October, offenders cut the curtain side of a parked and attended semi trailer in Chelmsford, Essex, and were able to steal €1,113,960 worth of Clothing & Footwear.

Five of the 11 major cargo crimes in October with losses in excess of €100,000 took place in the UK. These five thefts resulted in a total loss of €1,747,324. In addition to the crime mentioned previously, the other major thefts in the UK were:

·        €243,666 – A Theft from Vehicle crime at an unsecured parking location in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, on 23 October. Thieves broke the back door lock of a truck sometime between 19.00hrs on Sunday and 07.00hrs on Monday and stole 418 boxes of Clothing & Footwear

·        €168,207 – This crime took place in a secure parking location in Whetstone, Leicestershire, on 24 October and involved the theft of kitchen products from a semi-trailer while the driver was in the vehicle 

·        €116,851 – Heston services on the M4 motorway was the scene of another curtain-cutting crime in which thieves escaped with Computers/Laptops from a parked and attended truck on 17 October

·        €104,640 – In Raunds, Northamptonshire, on 4 October offenders cut the curtain side of a truck and stole a large quantity of Toys & Games 

Italy remains an extremely frustrating market in terms of the level of incident reporting. The number of losses recorded by IIS remains relatively low but when thefts do occur they usually follow the main characteristics associated with earlier cargo crimes in Italy, notably well organised and violent truck hijackings:

€200,000 – Cigarettes

On 25 October, thieves staged a violent attack on a delivery vehicle in the Lombardy region. They waited for the driver to stop and open the back door of the vehicle before threatening him with a gun. A number of pallets of cigarettes were stolen within just a four-minute period. 

€200,000 – Cigarettes

Yet another high value loss of a cargo of cigarettes in Milan on 25 October. In this incident, criminals used a van to block the road, forcing the truck driver to stop. They forced open the back door to access and steal the cargo.  

€200,000 – Miscellaneous electronics

This third crime, also on 25 October and targeting a truck en route in the Milan region, could suggest an audacious series of same-day thefts by a single crime group, although no firm evidence of this currently exists. Once again, the attackers used a van to force the truck driver to stop. The driver was put into another van while the truck was moved to a quiet location close by, where the thieves used a tool to cut open a hole in the back door of the stolen vehicle to take the cargo. Reports following the crime said the thieves used a GPS jammer to conceal the location of the truck during the theft. It was also suggested that they may have needed to tow the vehicle to where it was unloaded as its immobiliser system prevented it from being restarted.   

€220,000 – Computers/Laptops

Earlier in the month on 5 October in Casnate con Bernate, 30 kilometres north of Milan, a truck loaded with Computers/Laptops was forced to stop by people dressed as police officers who had, once again, used a van to block the road. In this incident, which happened shortly after the truck had left a nearby transport company site, the driver was threatened with a gun and ordered to follow the offenders. Fortunately, genuine police officers patrolling nearby became suspicious and ultimately arrested three men at the scene. They also found guns, blank ammunition and materials to bind and gag the driver.   

The other major crimes occurred in Germany and South Africa. The incident in Otzberg in the state of Hesse, Germany, was one of 10 crimes in October that involved the theft of Tyres. In fact, this Deceptive Pick-up from a Services 3rd Party Facility involved the collection of three loads on 24 and 25 October by a fake transport company, resulting in a total loss of €150,000.

In South Africa, the other crime saw attackers in four cars ambush a truck and its security vehicle, opening fire on both vehicles before stealing €118,862 of Phones. The incident occurred in the Kempton Park area of Gauteng province, the scene of regular truck hijackings and other cargo thefts.

LOSSES OF €50,000-€100,000 

TAPA’s IIS also recorded 21 cargo thefts last month involving losses of between €50,000 and €100,000. Two of these took place in Sweden – the loss of €71,005 of Clothing & Footwear in a Theft from Moving Truck crime on 31 October in Norrbotten in northernmost Sweden and a Theft from Vehicle on 23 October of €50,718 of electrical goods. In the second incident, thieves cut a fence to reach a locked trailer that had been left in an enclosed area in Malmo.

All remaining losses in this value range – 19 in total with a combined loss of €1,305,293 - occurred in the United Kingdom:

·        €99,903 – Tyres stolen from two trucks from the same company at an unsecured parking location in Upper Heyford, Northamptonshire on 27 October  

·        €88,002 -  Thieves took HD televisions in a Theft from Vehicle incident in Daventry, Northamptonshire, on 20 October

·        €83,547 – Electrical bicycles stolen from a trailer in Leicestershire on 25 October

·        €82,020 – A cargo of Tyres stolen in Rugby on 21 October

·        €75,749 – A shipment of Tyres stolen from a truck on 25 October in Newark-on-Trent, Lincolnshire

·        €73,521 – Clothing & Footwear taken from a truck at an unsecured parking location in Ipswich, Suffolk, on 12 October

·        €70,796 – A shipment of deep fat frying appliances stolen on 6 October from a truck at Watford Gap services in Northamptonshire

·        €69,065 – Champagne stolen from a semi-trailer in Grays, Essex, on 13 October

·        €67,392 – Theft of copper from a vehicle in Ashford, Kent on 18 October

·        €66,837 – Dresses taken in a Theft from Vehicle crime in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, on 3 October

·        €64,609 – Clothing & Footwear products taken in a Theft from Vehicle crime in Basildon, Essex, on 21 October

·        €62,919 – Electrical products stolen from a truck at a Road Transportation Facility in Leicestershire

·        €62,899 – Tyres stolen in a Theft from Vehicle crime in Ranby, Nottinghamshire, on 30 October

·        €62,381 – Car parts stolen from a vehicle at a Services 3rd Party Facility in Grays, Essex, on 20 October

·        €60,153 – Tyres stolen from a truck in Purfleet, Essex, on 13 October

·        €55,698 –Unspecified cargo taken from a vehicle in Daventry, Northamptonshire

·        €55,309 – Furniture/Household Appliances stolen from a truck at a Road Transportation Facility in Northamptonshire on 7 October

·        €53,931 – Computers/Laptops stolen from a truck at a Road Transportation Facility in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, on 19 October

·        €50,560 – Miscellaneous electrical products stolen from a truck in Leicestershire on 19 October


Of these 19 cargo crimes:

·        15 involved thieves cutting the curtain sides of trucks

·        14 of the incidents involved trucks that were parked and attended

·        10 of the thefts were reported as happening overnight

·        9 thefts occurred in unsecured parking locations

·        5 took place at motorway services

·        4 involved thieves cutting locks and seals


Overall, 101 or 45.3% of recorded cargo crimes in October 2016 took place in the UK. The Netherlands and Sweden were the only other countries with 10 or more reported incidents with 72 or 32.3% and 15 or 6.7% respectively.


IIS received loss reports in 16 different product categories as well as seven thefts of trucks or trailers with no load. Five of the categories had 10 or more incidents:


  • Furniture/Household Appliances – 22 (9.9%)
  • Clothing & Footwear – 19 (8.5%)
  • Food & Drink – 12 (5.4%)
  • Cosmetics & Hygiene – 10 (4.5%)
  • Tyres – 10 (4.5%)


In 83 or 37.2% of crimes the goods targeted were unspecified and another 24 or 10.8% of thefts involved miscellaneous products.


Of the 223 cargo thefts recorded by TAPA’s IIS last month, 149 or 67% were Theft from Vehicle crimes. Theft from Trailer was the only other type of incident to reach double figures for the month, recording 29 losses, 13% of the October total.  


The locations of 72 or 32.3% of the month’s incidents were unknown. Of the rest, thefts occurring at Unsecured Parking locations remained top of the monthly crime list, featuring in 69 or 30.9% of the remaining crimes. The other three main locations for cargo losses in October were: 

  • Road Transportation Facility – 31 (13.9%)
  • Origin Facility -22 (9.9%)
  • En Route – 12 (5.4%)


Intrusion - recorded in 153 or 68.6% of incidents - continued to be the most recorded modus operandi used by cargo thieves. 

TAPA EMEA members can find further information on these and the other incidents that occurred in October 2016 in the IIS database.