Any hopes that cargo crime was in decline in the EMEA region after a fall in recorded incidents in the first five months of 2018 received a wake-up call in June, which saw the first year-on-year increase.  Now, July’s figures are likely to crush any remaining optimism with the total loss value for the month up 299.3% over the same month of 2017 to €15,813,480.

This follows the latest analysis in TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) Q2 2018 Report which revealed a 58% increase in major cargo thefts in the region with a value of €100,000 or more in the first half of the year. These 98 crimes alone produced a loss of €31,784,779 or an average for each theft of €324,334. 

Hopes that the situation might improve in the second half of the year already look ominous after TAPA’s IIS recorded its second highest number of incidents for the year so far, 223 in total or a  25.9% rise over the 177 thefts or attempted thefts from supply chains in EMEA in July 2017.

The average loss last month – based on the 170 or 76.2% of crimes reporting a value – was also up year-on-year by 78.5% to €93,020.

More than half of the total loss value for July 2018 was attributed to a single crime; the €8,536,960 theft of 112 tonnes of drums of cobalt metal from the secure area of a warehouse in Rotterdam which, according to media reports, occurred between 5 and 9 July. Dutch Police are investigating how such a large quantity of the metal could have disappeared without the thieves being seen by someone.

Reports on the crime also highlighted a similar incident in Antwerp in 2008 when a gang stole 20 tonnes of cobalt from a warehouse facility. Police subsequently made arrests and court documents from the case stated that one of the charged – an employee of a transportation company – confessed to having locked himself into the facility and disabled the alarm before spending six hours moving the cobalt using a bulldozer. This only serves to illustrate the huge logistical exercise that would have been needed to facilitate last month’s crime.        

TAPA EMEA has been asked not to publish information on two of the nine major cargo crimes recorded in July. The others were:


A forced stop and truck hijacking on Highway 16 in the Apulia region of Italy on 4 July and the loss of a shipment of pharmaceuticals. According to the incident report, the vehicle was travelling from a distribution centre in Rome to Modugno, near Bari, when its route was blocked by two cars with several armed offenders inside, who kidnapped the two drivers and are said to have used a special device to open the trailer and steal the cargo. Although the truck was equipped with alarms and other security systems, police patrols were not able to intervene in time.    




On 11 July, this Deceptive Pick-up saw an offender enter the secured yard of an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in a tractor unit following a telephone call to the company, which was subsequently found to have provided false information. The driver collected a semi-trailer loaded with a cargo of alcohol and left the premises.


A driver who parked for a rest stop in an unsecured parking location in Ulricehamn in Västra Götaland, Sweden, woke up on the morning of 4 July to discover that 14 pallets containing 182 televisions had been stolen from his vehicle overnight.


This was the first of two almost identical freight thefts in Rugby, Warwickshire, in the UK on 29 July. Both Theft from Vehicle crimes saw the thieves cut open the curtain sides of trucks to steal sports goods. In the other incident, the loss value was recorded as €108,900.


Beaconsfield Motorway Service Area (MSA) at junction 2 of the M40 in Buckinghamshire, UK, was the scene of this crime on 20 July when offenders cut a hole in the tarpaulin of a parked and attended truck and were able to steal computers/laptops.   

The combined loss value for the nine major losses last month of €10,993,356 produced an average value for these crimes of €1,221,484.


An additional 26 incidents were reported to the TAPA IIS database with loss values of between €50,000 and €100,000, which accounted for €1,832,969 of the total loss figure for July and produced an average in this value category of €70,498. The 10 highest value crimes in this category all took place in the UK and involved:

·        €99,133 – Thieves forced open the fire door of an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in Banbury to access the warehouse and open the shutter door. After driving up to the door in a truck, they hot-wired a forklift vehicle in order to load and steal 26 pallets of fire pits on 21 July   

·        €99,022 – Computers/laptops were stolen from a truck parked on an industrial estate in Milton Keynes on 27 July after offenders cut a hole in its tarpaulin curtain

·        €99,022 – On 18 July, computers/laptops were taken in a similar incident at Leicester Forest East MSA in the East Midlands

·        €98,934 – Watches were among the cargo that disappeared from a truck parked in an unsecured location in Aylesford, Kent, on 31 July, after its curtain side was sliced open  

·        €96,510 – Offenders cut the security locks and seals of a truck parked at Trowell MSA in Nottinghamshire on 27 July and stole a shipment of women’s clothing

·        €87,143 – In another curtain-cutting crime at a MSA, tyres were taken from a truck at Toddington MSA on the M1 in Bedfordshire on 19 July

·        €75,587 – A cargo of shoes was lost in another Theft from Vehicle crime in Aylesford, Kent, on 24 July. The truck was parked on an industrial estate

·        €74,370 – Food mixers were taken in a further Theft from Vehicle at Beaconsfield MSA on 20 July

·        €74,370 – The curtain side of a truck parked at Leicester Forest East MSA was cut open on 23 July and thieves stole car batteries

·        €72,619 – Curtain-cutting was also the M.O. used to steal laptops from a truck at Hartshead Moor MSA in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 14 July

Of the 16 TAPA IIS product categories recording thefts in July, four reported double-digit losses:

·        Food & Drink – 36 incidents, 16.1% of the monthly total

·        Clothing & Footwear – 17 or 7.6%

·        Tobacco – 15 or 6.7%

·        Cosmetics & Hygiene – 10 or 4.5%

In total, 188 or 84.3% of incidents reported to TAPA EMEA were Theft from Vehicle crimes in July, while 174 or 78.1% of losses were recorded in Unsecured Parking locations.

Cargo crimes were reported in nine countries in the region last month, with the United Kingdom and the Netherlands accounting for 90.1% of incidents, with 165 and 36 respectively. Points of note included:


The 165 newly-recorded crimes in the UK in July included 152 or 92.1% with a value, producing a combined loss for these incidents of €5,385,239 and an average of €35,429. In virtually every case, goods were stolen after thieves cut the curtain sides of parked trucks or broke open their rear door locks.

The IIS product categories with the highest number of incidents in the UK last month were:

·        Food & Drink – 31 crimes producing a total loss of €1,433,778  

·        Tobacco – 12 crimes with a combined loss of €45,896

·        Clothing & Footwear – 10 crimes, resulting in a loss of €739,170

In Q2 2018 and again in July, TAPA’s IIS recorded several incidents in London in which thieves targeted trucks stuck in heavy traffic or at traffic signals. In Clapton and Edmonton, two such cases involved vehicles carrying cigarettes. However, overall, the East Midlands remained the biggest hotspot for cargo crime in the UK with 81 incidents reported in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, representing 49% of the July total.

The number of freight thefts at UK Motorway Service Areas remains a significant concern. After recording a total of 152 such incidents in Q2 2018, a further 84 were reported to TAPA’s IIS in July involving a total loss of €2,633,860. 

18 MSAs recorded cargo thefts last month, led by:

·        Leicester Forest East on the M1 – 15 incidents

·        Trowell on the M1 – 13 incidents

·        Hartshead Moor on the M62 – 11 incidents

·        Beaconsfield on the M40 – 9 incidents

·        Donington Park on the M1 – 7 incidents



The high value loss of cobalt was one of two major incidents in July, although TAPA has been asked not to publish information of the other crime. The six incidents that gave a value produced a total loss of €8,749,336. Similar to the UK, most crimes involved curtain cutting, including 16 incidents on the same night in Veldhoven, North Brabant, on 30 July, and the six trucks targeted at an unsecured parking site on the A50 in Schaijk, also in North Brabant, on 10 July.

Goods targeted included phones, deck flooring, clothing and footwear, vodka, computer monitors, cosmetics and hygiene products, boots, vacuum cleaners, sports shoes, tools and nickel.

Crimes at unsecured parking locations were also reported on the:

·        A2 at Breukelen, Echt and Eijsden

·        A16 at Breda

·        A50 at Son en Breugel

·        A67 at Gelderop, Horst aan de Maas and Maasbree

·        A73 at Venlo


Three of the six recorded crimes involved thefts or attempted thefts of cigarette shipments in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Île-de-France. Sports equipment and beer were among the other goods stolen from supply chains in July.  


In addition to the €1 million theft of pharmaceuticals mentioned earlier, TAPA’s IIS recorded:

·        An Internal theft of pharmaceuticals from an Origin Facility in Bologna on 19 July with a loss value of €6,848

·        On 18 July, three offenders used a truck to steal 100kg of copper, 100kg of bronze and 50kg of aluminium from an Origin Facility in San Giovanni, Apulia

·        A dozen thieves, some armed with automatic weapons, were involved in the violent hijacking of a cash-in-transit vehicle which was en route in Foggia, Apulia, on 6 July  


TAPA cannot publish information on two of the three crimes but, together, they produced a loss of over €300,000. The third incident involved only a small loss from a truck at an unsecured parking in Garbsen, Lower Saxony.


The five crimes recorded were all hijackings as thieves targeted trucks carrying clothing, meat and other food and drink products in Eastern Cape. In Gauteng province, unspecified cargo was stolen after a truck driver was pulled over on the N12 by a car using a blue flashing light. The driver was subsequently threatened with a gun before the cargo was taken.    


Thieves may have used a gas pumped through a truck’s ventilation system to sedate a truck driver and break into the vehicle’s trailer, although TAPA is unable to share any specific details of this crime.     

Report all cargo crimes to iis@(*** please remove ***)tapaemea.org