TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) has so far been notified of cargo thefts in 16 countries in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region in November.
With incident reports still being received for last month, the total of 99 crimes already identified as Vigilant went to press had already produced a total loss of €6,779,088 for the 23 or 23.2% of cases sharing financial data or an average of €294,742 per crime.
The average loss for the five major cargo thefts last month with a value of €100,000 or more was substantially higher at €1,302,618.
One incident accounted for over 70% of November’s loss total; the forced stop and theft of a trailer carrying a shipment of phones at an unclassified parking location on the A428 in Crick, Northamptonshire, in the UK, on 10 November.
According to intelligence shared with TAPA’s IIS, after stopping the vehicle, offenders tied up the driver and security guard passenger before moving the truck to another location in the same village, where the trailer was hooked up to the criminals’ own tractor unit and driven away. Forty-eight pallets of phones where stolen in the attack with a reported value of €5,578,744. The driver and guard were later released and police officers eventually found the truck in Lutterworth, Warwickshire, where detectives believe the offenders transferred the cargo to a third vehicle.
The four other major cargo thefts recorded in November were:
Another theft of phones, this incident recorded at a Services 3rd Party Facility in Madrid, Spain, on 16 November involved an Internal modus operandi, as referenced in last month’s Vigilant. Five members of staff were arrested for stealing phones from the facility after the company’s security team became suspicious that thefts were taking place following discrepancies in the weight of loads delivered to customers. An internal investigation was launched, which included placing covert cameras in the warehouse. The camera footage showed the suspects stealing phones and IMEI numbers to hinder any investigation. The incident reports stated that the thefts are believed to have been going on for some time due to the estimated value of the loss.
In Montebelluna in Veneto, Italy, on 10 November, thieves stole a large quantity of sports equipment and clothing from a Destination Facility after disabling the alarm and forcing open an emergency exit door. Law enforcement officers located a stolen van around 2km south of the facility in Trevignano following the incident. Some of the stolen items were found in the van. The remainder of the cargo is still missing.
A trailer loaded with frozen fish was stolen by two offenders in Padborg, Denmark, on 14 November but police were able to find and arrest the suspects as they were about to reload the stolen cargo into another vehicle.
Offenders forced open a door to gain entry to a warehouse facility on an industrial estate in Pontedera in Tuscany, Italy, on 12 November, causing an alarm to sound. A contracted security company attended the scene but did not notice anything suspicious. Once the security patrol had left, the offenders loaded a consignment of luxury designer shoes into their vehicle and escaped. The incident was captured on the security cameras of a neighbouring facility although the victims only noticed the theft when they attended work at their facility the next morning.
Two further losses gave a value of between €50-100K last month:
- €54,490 – a shipment of Abalones stolen in a truck hijacking in Cape Town, South Africa on 11 November
- €50,000 – 100 wheels of cheese taken from an Origin Facility in Valestra, Italy, on 16 November
Of the 16 countries reporting cargo crimes to TAPA EMEA’s IIS last month, only three have recorded double-digit incident rates based on intelligence received to date:
- United Kingdom – 28 incidents
- South Africa – 19
- Germany – 17
Goods were stolen in 15 TAPA IIS product categories. The top six known product types were:
- Food & Drink – 15 incidents or 15.2% of the November total
- Tobacco – 7 (7.1%)
- Phones – 7 (7.1%)
- Cash – 5 (5.1%)
- Furniture/Household Appliances & Clothing & Footwear – both 4 (4%)
Attacks of trucks remained the most common types of cargo crime, led by the 36 or 36.4% of incidents recorded as Theft from Vehicle and followed by
- Hijacking – 19 (19.2%)
- Theft of Trailer – 9 (9.0%)
- Theft of Vehicle – 8 (8.1%)
Although TAPA’s IIS recorded only eight Theft from Facility crimes in November, 8.1% of the total crimes, criminal attacks on facilities are believed to be increasing in the EMEA region.
Unclassified Parking Location continued to be the type of location recorded in most cargo thefts in EMEA. Last month, it accounted for 36 or 36.4% of crimes. The only other known location to see a double-digit loss rate was Destination Facility with 17, 17.2% of all crimes. TAPA was also notified of 16 incidents with the Violent and Threat with Violence M.O.
Other crimes highlighted in November’s IIS data included:
- On 10 November in Midrand in South Africa’s Gauteng province, two trucks transporting thousands of mobile phones were travelling in convoy when they were intercepted by a cargo theft gang travelling in three cars. The gang hijacked the trucks and fled the scene. Police were immediately alerted to the incident and soon located one of the missing vehicles nearby where offenders were in the process of unloading the truck. The suspects ran off but police recovered the truck and its cargo as well as one of the offenders’ vehicles, a false set of registration plates, GPS jamming devices and the magazine from an R5 rifle. Police officers later intercepted a van with three other offenders onboard, one of whom was shot and killed and another wounded as they tried to escape. A number of the stolen phones were recovered from the van.
- On 28 November, three offenders were arrested in Fredericia, Denmark, as they were loading 33 pallets containing 15,000 bottles of Italian wine from a stolen trailer onto a Lithuanian-registered vehicle.
- Police arrested three men for impersonating officers and attempting to hijack a truck following a chase from Kempton Park to Thembisa in South Africa. Police in Kempton Park noticed a white VW Polo sedan, thought to be an unmarked police vehicle, and three men in Gauteng Traffic Police uniforms struggling with a man. The officers stopped to investigate, at which point the truck driver screamed that he was being hijacked. The trio of offenders jumped into the VW sedan and fled the scene.
- Police used geolocators to find a stolen vehicle and miscellaneous goods in Vitry-sur-Seine, France. Two suspects were also arrested after police found some of the stolen products in their homes.
- On 11 November, four masked offenders carrying firearms forced a truck driver to stop at a junction in Margherita di Savoia in Italy. After removing the driver from his cab, they fled with the vehicle and its cargo of toys and Christmas decorations. However, the driver soon raised the alarm and a police search of the area found the abandoned truck and cargo hidden in a rural barn near Canosa di Puglia.
- In another incident in Italy - on 17 November – a gang of around 10 offenders travelling in seven vehicles targeted a facility in Bresso, Lombardy. During the hours of darkness, they used a a van to smash through a door and stole several boxes of phones. The gang reportedly used six vehicles to block approach roads to the facility and spread hundreds of multi-spiked nails on the roads to hinder any security or police response. The gang then escaped on the nearby A-4 motorway.
- On 18 November in Salzbergen, Germany, at least 13 trailers were damaged by cargo thieves at a truck stop. They slashed the tarpaulin curtains of the vehicles before stealing pallets of clothing from one of the vehicles.
- Thieves used an SUV to ram the factory doors of a facility in Villastanza in Italy on 4 November. After triggering the building’s alarm system, they quickly loaded a shipment of luxury shoes into two SUVs. A contracted private security patrol arrived quickly at the scene but the offenders used one of their SUVs to ram the security vehicle in order to get away, using a van to block the road to aid their escape. The loss value is estimated at tens of thousands of Euros.
- In Bekkersdal in South Africa’s Gauteng province, an armed gang of 18 attackers in six cars rammed a cash-in-transit vehicle on 10 November, forcing it to stop, before opening fire on the truck and its escort vehicle, fatally shooting a security guard. An innocent female passer-by was also tragically killed in the gunfight before the gang used explosives to remove the CIT vehicle’s doors to steal the cash inside.
- A lorry driver attempting to make a delivery to a Destination Facility in London, UK, on 20 November found his vehicle’s route blocked by a car. The occupants made out that the vehicle had stalled. The driver eventually got out of his vehicle to investigate and the car drove off but, in the meantime, another offender had gained access to the rear of the truck to try to steal the goods inside but left empty-handed.
- A truck driver parked on an industrial estate in Milton Keynes in the UK, waiting to unload his trailer of electronics products, was subjected to a violent hijacking of 25 November. Four men smashed the vehicle’s cab window and hijacked the truck before forcing the driver at knifepoint to move the vehicle to another location. Once there, the offenders unloaded the majority of the cargo into a van and unhitched the driver’s truck from the trailer. He was then told to drive to a rest area on the A5 near Little Brickhill in Buckinghamshire, where they forced the driver into nearby woods before torching the truck, causing it to explode in flames.
- Over three nights at the end of November, an offender was able to return to a warehouse facility in Great Blakenham, Suffolk, in the UK and steal consignments of toys and homeware items.
And, finally, a reminder of the risks truck drivers continue to face from migrant intrusion. On 19 November, French police had to use tear gas to prevent around 500 migrants from trying to board trucks in Coquelles near Calais in Northern France. This is one of several reports of similar incidents reported by media sources in recent weeks.