NOW YOU SEE ME … NOW YOU DON’T

As cargo thefts from supply chains in EMEA climb sharply again in April and losses with a value exceed €11.4 million, more shipments do a disappearing act in Russia … and tobacco thieves are out in force in the United Kingdom

Cargo thefts were recorded by TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) across 18 countries in the EMEA region in April as the number of incidents jumped 67.6% year-on-year, continuing the steep rise in reported freight thefts since the start of the year, as highlighted in the latest Q1 2019 IIS Report.

This issue’s focus on the rise in fraudulent pick-ups and deception in Russia is reinforced by a series of newly-recorded incidents in the last four weeks:

·       A truck carrying €301,000 of cigarettes was stolen on 19 April while en route between Nizhniy Novgorod and Vladimir, east of Moscow, after an unknown individual contacted the driver and instructed him to reload the cargo into another vehicle 

·       Forged driver and vehicle documentation enabled thieves to steal €51,455 of car parts from an Origin Facility in Dzerzhinskiy in Moscow Oblast on 11 April

·       On 9 April, another driver delivering furniture/household appliances in Zelenograd, Moscow, was instructed to take the cargo to an unauthorised location while en route

·       The same M.O. was used in the theft of €37,000 of kegs of beer in Omsk, southwestern Siberia, and another shipment of ceramic tiles in Moscow 

·       A company lost communication with a driver delivering a shipment of polyethylene film rolls in the Moscow region, later discovering he had used fake documentation to collect the load

·       Another driver disappeared along with metal worth €27,370 after collecting it from an Origin Facility in Zaraysk, Moscow

·       The driver of a truck delivering a shipment of cheese reportedly diverted his vehicle to an unauthorised location in Rostov on Don in southern Russia and sold the cargo to unknown individuals

Russia featured in other high-profile incident reports last month. Multiple attacks on drivers and vehicles were recorded on the Vyshny Volochock area of the M10, with one intelligence report stating thieves used firearms to shoot the tyres on one truck. Further cargo crimes were recorded in laybys on the M11 motorway around Novgorod and Okulova.

Police also detained a group of suspects believed to have been involved in multiple thefts from railway containers at the Onokhoy railway station in East Siberia. Goods stolen are said to have included car parts, tools, paints and food products.

Overall, TAPA’s IIS captured intelligence on 238 cargo thefts in April compared to 142 in the same month of 2018. The 31 or 13% of these crimes sharing financial data produced a total loss of €11,432,557 – versus €6,733,937 a year ago – or an average of €368,792.

The number of major thefts from supply chains in EMEA halved year-on-year to five but still resulted in a total loss of €10,923,347 or an average of €2,184,669. Nearly all of this figure, however, was attributed to one audacious theft in Tirana, Albania, on 9 April when a group of masked offenders held staff at an Aviation Transportation Facility at gunpoint while they offloaded a shipment of cash-in-transit from the cargo hold of an aircraft. 

In addition to the aforementioned theft of cigarettes in Russia, the other major losses last month were:

€360,653

Fish accessories were stolen from a vehicle parked in an unsecured location in Botlek, Rotterdam, in the Netherlands on 10 April.  

€161,694

Thieves tried to steal cables from a facility in Dubai after breaking into the warehouse by smashing open the padlock on the security gate on 7 April. A guard who was alerted to the incident managed to catch one of the offenders and call the police. 

€100,000

A trailer loaded with chocolate was stolen from an unsecured parking location on an industrial estate in Teterow, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany, on 6 April. The offenders attached the trailer to their own tractor unit. Police alerted to the crime managed to track the vehicle to the Polish border before losing the GPS tracking signal.  

Despite the big increase in incidents versus April 2018, there were only four other cargo crimes with a loss value of between €50,000 and €100,000, totalling €253,663 or an average of €63,415. These involved:

·       €71,208 of tailgate drives stolen from a trailer in an unsecured parking location while en route from a manufacturer in Romania to a logistics centre in Slovakia on 1 April

·       €71,000 of food and drink products lost in a Theft of Vehicle incident in South Africa on 1 April. The truck was en route between Durban and Johannesburg, although the exact location of the crime is unknown. The empty vehicle was later found in Pietermaritzburg

·       €60,000 loss of rolls of aluminium in another Theft of Vehicle crime. This one, on 21 April, occurred in an unsecured parking place in Roermond in the Netherlands

·       €51,455 of car parts stolen on 11 April in Russia in the fraudulent pick-up highlighted earlier in this article

April also saw a total of 38 thefts of tobacco products, mostly in the UK and including a high number of incidents in the West Midlands and Yorkshire & The Humber. Several sightings of a white van were referenced in these crimes in the Midlands, notably the Birmingham area. In one case, a member of the public alerted a driver to suspects climbing down from the back of his trailer before making their escape. Tobacco delivery vehicles being targeted by two men wearing high visibility jackets also featured in IIS intelligence reports. 

Other cargo crimes in April 2019 included:

·       Three men wearing Metro and SAPS police uniforms in Maryvlei, Gauteng province, stopped a truck and asked the driver for his licence before forcing him out of his vehicle and into a car with four other people. His face was covered throughout the crime and he was later released in a secluded area near Pretoria, South Africa  

·       The ‘blue light’ M.O. was also used by thieves to steal 70 televisions while the cargo was en route in Kempton Park, South Africa. Legitimate police officers later found the stolen shipment 

·       Explosives were used to blow open a security truck carrying cash on the R510 highway in Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West Province

·       On the A43 in Lyon, France, fake police also stopped a truck carrying fashion clothing. Part of the load was later recovered 

·       106 car wheels were stolen while in transit from a manufacturing plant in Portugal, to a receiving depot in Germany. The offenders cut the tarpaulin side of the vehicle to steal the cargo, which recorded a value of €27,731

·       Car parts were also stolen while en route in Romania and the Czech Republic as well as from a logistics facility in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany

·       Thieves pretending to be employed by a well-known UK company ordered goods via email from a supplier in China, which were shipped in eight containers to Mombasa, where they were cleared without payment being made to the suppliers. Police later recovered the stolen containers in Kampala.

·       22 electric bicycles were stolen from a truck parked in an unsecured location in Weert, Netherlands

·       An offender supposedly drugged a driver in order to steal a vehicle loaded with household goods in Kenya

·       Consumer electronics were taken in a Theft from Moving Vehicle crime on 9 April as they were being transported between the Netherlands and Oberhausen, Germany

Two crimes involving clandestines were also reported to TAPA’s IIS in April:

·       Police who stopped a truck with Bulgarian licence plates, which had been reported stolen, found 59 migrants hidden behind boxes of insulation materials in Thessaloniki, Greece

·       A driver in Germany also admitted he has been paid by a people smuggler to transport 12 migrants after they were discovered in his vehicle in Cham, Bavaria. Officials noticed the vehicle was heavier than expected before conducting a search and finding the migrants

For the latest incident data, TAPA EMEA members should visit the Association’s website and visit the password-protected Incident Information Service (IIS) database.