HEARTLESS THIEVES STEAL 18,000 BOXES OF TOYS DESTINED FOR CHILDREN IN HOSPITAL AS 178 CARGO THEFTS IN EMEA IN JULY PRODUCE LOSSES OF MORE THAN €4 MILLION

Every cargo theft is distressing for the victims but, every now and again, an incident takes place which attracts even greater condemnation because of the callousness of the crime.

One such incident was reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) in the United Kingdom on 12 July when thieves broke into a Road Transportation Facility in Moldgreen near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and stole 18,000 boxes of toys and games from a charity which supports children in hospitals. The offenders reportedly entered the building late on the Sunday night or in the early hours of the following morning and loaded their own vehicle with toys before making their escape. They later returned for a second load – taking the total loss value to €439,081 - and also stole the vehicle used by the charity to make its deliveries. The empty van was later recovered after the charity issued an appeal, but it is unclear if any of the stolen goods have been traced.

This, however, was far from the biggest loss last month. TAPA EMEA received information on three seven-figure losses in July, all in the Île-de-France region of France:    

·        On 14 July, offenders stole eight pallets containing 3,000 phones valued at €1,700,000 from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Combs-la-Ville, Île-de-France, on the southern outskirts of Paris. 

·        As Vigilant went to press, TAPA’s IIS team were also gathering new intelligence on the reported theft of €5.8 million worth of electronics products from a truck at the beginning of July in the north of Seine-et-Marne. This incident is not included in the incident data for July reported in this issue but will be added to the IIS database once the crime has been verified.

·        The third seven-figure loss took place on 6 July and saw a group of 12 offenders attack a truck carrying a shipment of computer products and phones while it was en route in Saint-Witz. After smashing the windows of the cab while the vehicle had stopped at a junction, and overpowering the driver, the thieves later transferred the cargo into two vans before releasing the driver in a rural location and making their escape in the direction of Lognes. Police officers found the abandoned truck with some of the goods still inside but the gang still managed to steal ‘several million euros’ of products, according to the IIS intelligence report.

The other major cargo crime recorded by TAPA’s IIS in July with a value of more than €100,000 was the €329,550 theft of cosmetics from a truck in Brinklow, Warwickshire in the UK, on 15 July.

Losses within the €50,000 to €100,000 loss range also included:

·        €93,220 – tractor screens and GPS units stolen from an Origin Facility in Klofta, Norway, on 25 July

·        €60,000 – 3,000kgs of copper and plastic processing equipment from an Origin Facility in Verderio in Italy’s Lombardy region on 13 July 

To date, TAPA’s IIS database has received a total of 178 new cargo crime reports for July 2020. 101 or 56.7% of these provided a loss value, producing a combined total loss of €4,043,683 or an average for all incidents last month with a value of €40,036.

TAPA EMEA’s new MoU with NaVCIS, the UK’s National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, is already helping to identify more cargo theft incidents in the United Kingdom. In July, the UK recorded the highest number of crimes in the IIS database with 99, 55.6% of the monthly total. Cargo thefts or attempted thefts by thieves targeting trucks parked at UK motorway service areas remained a prominent feature of this latest data, with incidents recorded at MSA locations including Trowell in Nottinghamshire, Leeds, Doncaster, Leicester, Wetherby, Northallerton, Oxford, Sandbach, Potters Bar, Bishops Stortford, Newport Pagnell, Stafford, Chester, Knottingley, Fleet and Beaconsfield.

Some reports indicate thieves are being very specific over the goods they are targeting. On 1 July, 29 HGVs had their tarpaulin curtains cut at a parking location in Ecclefechan in Scotland, and on 10 July the curtains of a further seven trucks were slashed open at a secured yard in Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk. In both cases, no goods were stolen. Proactive responses by UK law enforcement also led to the arrests of five offenders seen taking goods from a truck at Trowell MSA at junction 24 of the M1 motorway as well as four people in connection with the theft of a truck loaded with a shipment of vodka from Birch MSA on the M62.

On 10 July, miscellaneous goods worth nearly €33,000 were also stolen from a Destination Facility in Saltey, Chester, in the UK after what turned out to be a bogus transport company successfully bid for the delivery.

Of the 12 countries in the EMEA region recording cargo crimes in July, only two others saw double-digit incidents rates; Germany with 49 or 27.5% of the July total, and South Africa with 10 or 5.6%.   

A total of 17 IIS product categories recorded losses during the month. These included:

·        Food & Drink – 18 or 10.1% of the July total 

·        Tobacco – 11 or 6.2%

·        Furniture/Household Appliances – 9 or 5.1%

·        No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 8 or 4.5%

·        Car Parts – 7 or 3.9%

In 96 or 53.9% of incident reports in this reporting period, the goods stolen were listed as unspecified or miscellaneous.

Unclassified Parking Location was the location recorded for 100 or 56.2% of July’s crimes. The other known locations reporting 10 incidents or more were:

·        Destination Facility – 16 incidents, 9% of the total

·        Services 3rd Party Facility – 11 or 6.2%

·        En Route – 10 or 5.6%

Theft from Vehicle was by far the most recorded type of incident with 136 cases, 76.6% overall.

The other most notable incidents during the month included:

South Africa

·        12 July – A gang of 12 offenders used access cards to enter a Services 3rd Party Facility in Boksburg, Gauteng province, and forced a security guard to open the main gate to allow entry for five vehicles. 10 pallets of medicines were stolen in the attack.

·         18 July – Two offenders were killed in an exchange of gunfire with police officers after they targeted an Aviation Transportation Facility in Johannesburg and held staff at gunpoint while they stole face masks and phones. Seven other members of the gang were arrested and all the goods were recovered.

·        26 July – Two offenders accosted an employee entering a warehouse facility in Korsten, Port Elizabeth. In all, eight offenders had broken into the premises and forced the other employees to lay on the floor while they loaded two trucks with televisions, generators and tyres.

Italy

·        9 July – A group of armed offenders fired gunshots into the air to force a truck driver to stop in the town of San Severo in the Apulia region. The driver was struck of the head with a weapon as the thieves stole the cargo of agricultural materials. No loss value was recorded

·        24 July – Eight attackers with firearms set fire to a truck they were using to block the A14 motorway in Apulia in order to intercept a cash-in-transit vehicle. Thanks to the rapid response of police officers, the potential loss of millions of euros was prevented as the gang fled. Police also recovered an excavator at the scene, which the gang were planning to use to force entry into the armoured truck     

Germany

·        15 July – Thieves cut holes in the curtain sides of 12 trucks parked overnight at a location in Weeze, North Rhine-Westphalia before stealing 14 boxes of bicycles from the 12th vehicle. They were disturbed before they could escape with the entire load

France

·        13 July – After stealing a truck and its cargo of phones while it was en route in Saint priest near Lyon, thieves set off a fire extinguisher in the driver’s cab to try to destroy any forensic evidence. Another vehicle used in the attack was found burnt out.