Products worth more than €80 million were stolen from supply chains in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region in the first nine months of 2019, according to cargo thefts reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) database.

New intelligence for Q3 2019 ending 30 September shows a total loss value for the quarter of more than €26.4m million, adding to the €34.2m and €21m previously reported in the Association’s Q1 and Q2 IIS reports respectively.

Based on these figures alone, losses for 2019 are now showing over €293,000 of goods are  stolen by cargo thieves every day.

It is also important to recognise that even these high values represent only a small proportion of the true cost of cargo crime in the EMEA region. In Q1, Q2 and Q3 2019, the total number of incidents recorded with a value were just 37.3%, 29.7% and 23.8% respectively and, most significantly of all, intelligence for the majority of thefts from supply chains is still impossible to source.

TAPA EMEA’s latest quarterly analysis reveals a total of 596 new cargo crimes were notified to its IIS database during the three months to 30 September.

The combined loss value for the 23.8% of these incidents with a value was €26,455,200 – producing an average loss for these crimes for Q3 2019 of €186,304.

TAPA gathered intelligence on cargo losses in 22 countries in the EMEA region in Q3/19. France and the Netherlands recorded the highest number of crimes in the Association’s IIS database in this reporting period, due largely to the support and crime information given to  TAPA EMEA by law enforcement agencies in both countries. France saw a total of 146 actual or attempted cargo thefts, 24.5% of the Q3/19 total, while the Netherlands accounted for 136 or 22.8%.


Seven other countries recorded double-digit rates of incidents:

·         United Kingdom – 70 incidents or 11.8% of the Q3 total

·         Russia – 66 or 11.1%

·         Germany – 38 or 6.4%

·         Spain – 37 or 6.2%

·         South Africa – 36 or 6%

·         Italy – 15 or 2.5%

·         Belgium – 11 or 1.9%

Crimes across all 22 countries being targeted by cargo thieves in the third quarter of 2019 resulted in the losses of high value, theft targeted goods in 19 TAPA IIS product categories.

While over half of the incidents did not specify the types of goods stolen or targeted, 11 product types recorded 10 or more losses, according to data shared with the Association. These were:

·         Food & Drink – 60 cargo thefts or 10.1% of the Q3 total

·         Furniture/Household Appliances – 28 or 4.7%

·         Tobacco – 28 or 4.7%

·         No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 25 or 4.2%

·         Metal – 23 or 3.9%

·         Clothing & Footwear – 18 or 3%

·         Tools/Building Materials – 16 or 2.6%

·         Cash – 13 or 2.2%

·         Car Parts – 12 or 2%

·         Computers/Laptops – 11 or 1.9%

·         Cosmetics & Hygiene – 11 or 1.9%


Major losses average €1.3m

Major cargo thefts - with a value of €100,000 or more – were recorded in 18 incidents during the quarter and accounted for €23.4 million of the Q3 loss total, an average of €1.3m per crime.    

One crime dominated the Q3 results – the €17,440,800 theft of diamonds, earrings, necklaces and watches after thieves forced their way into a luxury goods warehouse in South Africa and overpowered the staff, destroying the building’s security doors in the process. The incident took place at an Origin Facility in Sandton, Gauteng province, on 9 August. Media reports claimed the building’s CCTV cameras were not working at the time of the raid.


The other major cargo crimes TAPA EMEA is able to report involved losses of:


The theft of a trailer and its load of computers/laptops on 1 September in Oss in the Netherlands’ North Brabant province.


A trailer and its cargo of alcohol products were taken from an unclassified parking location in Haaften, Gelderland in the Netherlands, on 27 July.


Offenders broke open the locks and security seal of a trailer parked overnight in an unclassified parking place on the E42 in Le Roeulx in Hainaut province, Belgium, on 20 September, and stole its cargo of toys and games.


The highest value loss recorded in the United Kingdom in Q3/19 saw thieves cut open the curtain side of a trailer parked at a service station on the A14 in Cambridgeshire on the night of 3 September and escape with a shipment of computers/laptops.    


The deceptive stop and hijacking of a truck on the R21 highway in Irene, south of Pretoria, South Africa, on 27 August. Two of the four men who stopped the truck at the side of the motorway were reportedly dressed in police uniforms. After removing the driver from the vehicle, the offenders drove off in the truck, which was pulling two trailers loaded with beverages. On this occasion, law enforcement officers were able to recover the vehicle because the quick-thinking driver had activated a security tracker before stopping his vehicle. It is unclear whether the cargo was still onboard the truck when it was found.  


Another high value loss of computers/laptops in the Netherlands occurred on 28 September when thieves removed three pallets containing the goods from a truck in Haarlemmermeer in North Holland.


An ‘Internal’ M.O. was recorded for this loss of unspecified cargo on 9 September following a truck hijacking in Kleinmond in South Africa’s Western Cape. Once again, tracking technology helped to direct police to an industrial area in Parow, a northern suburb of Cape Town, where they discovered the stolen truck and its driver. A search of a nearby storage facility recovered two products but the rest of the goods had already been removed.



TAPA continues to collate a growing amount of intelligence on cargo crimes in Russia, including this case of Fraud on 13 September when a driver offloaded 20 tonnes of clothing and footwear at an unauthorised location in Moscow after reportedly being instructed to do so by an unknown person.


Thieves also targeted a Maritime Transportation Facility in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on 1 August and stole a cargo of chemicals being stored in the facility. According to intelligence shared with TAPA’s IIS, the cargo was taken to a warehouse in nearby Cato Ridge where the thieves are believed to have changed the packaging in order to sell the chemicals on the grey market for farming or industrial use.  


Offenders removed the wall cladding of an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in York in the UK on 18 July. After making a hole in the wall, they were able to steal a large number of fruit juicer kitchen appliances.


Another case of a truck hijacking in South Africa following a deceptive stop. In this incident in Port Elizabeth on 22 July, the attackers stole 23 tonnes of copper.


On 30 August, metal was also targeted by thieves in Germany. Over 20 tonnes of copper was reported stolen from an Origin Facility after offenders used fake company data and identities to make a fraudulent pick-up. The loss was only confirmed when the cargo failed to reach its destination as scheduled.


In Port Elizabeth on 19 August, another vehicle carrying a load of metal was hijacked by a group of offenders wearing reflective jackets and standing next to a white vehicle with a blue light. After flagging down the truck, they reportedly shot and killed the driver before fleeing with the vehicle and its load. The truck and its cargo were later recovered by police using the vehicle’s GPS tracker.

In the second-tier loss category of between €50,000 and €100,000, TAPA EMEA recorded a further 20 incidents with a combined value of €1,441,302 or an average of €72,065. These included:


  • €99,366 – On 26 August, offenders reportedly bribed a truck driver delivering 410 portable generators and 560 four litre drums of oil to divert his truck to Oyo state in Nigeria
  • €87,556 – A shipment of tyres was stolen from a trailer left in an unauthorised parking place in Venlo in the Netherlands on 18 July
  • €87,329 – Thieves stole 21,500 kilos of avocadoes from a vehicle in Gameren in Gelderland in the Netherlands on 9 August 
  • €86,772 – Cable was stolen while en route in Pskov in the North West region of Russia. This was another crime involving fraud and deception in which the driver was reportedly told to unload the cargo at an unauthorised location by an unknown person on 8 August
  • €82,314 – Fraud was also used on 26 July to steal a cargo of confectionary en route in Moscow, Russia
  • €80,000 – 220 televisions were stolen in this Theft from Vehicle on 27 September at a service station on the E55 highway in Chieti in Italy’s Abruzzo region  
  • €80,000 – A full truckload of tyres and rims disappeared from an Origin Facility in Sehnde, Germany, on 22 August after thieves entered the warehouse and stole a loaded semi-trailer 
  • €80,000 – No products were stolen in this crime but two empty cargo trucks were set on fire at the rear of a Services 3rd Party Facility in Bielefeld, Germany, on 8 August  
  • €73,929 – Another case of fraud in Russia on 2 August resulted in the loss of a shipment of non-ferrous metal in St. Petersburg
  • €70,411 – Russia was also the scene of this deceptive pick-up of 20 units of clothing and footwear in Moscow on 27 July

The top five types of incidents reported to TAPA’s IIS in Q3/19 were:

  • Theft from Vehicle – 259 (43.5%)
  • Theft from Trailer – 131 (22.0%)
  • Fraud – 65 (10.9%)
  • Theft of Vehicle – 39 (6.5%)
  • Hijacking – 23 (3.9%) 

10 different types of locations were cited as the places where cargo crimes occurred in Q3 2019. Unclassified Parking Location was recorded in 248 or 41.6% of incidents in the quarter and this figure was probably considerably higher given that a further 210 or 35.3% of reports said the places where losses took place were unknown. Three other locations accounted for a further 115 incidents:

·         En Route – 48 incidents or 8.1% of the quarterly total

·         Origin Facility – 41 or 6.9%

·         Destination Facility – 26 or 4.4%



  1. Growth of Last Mile cargo crimes – TAPA EMEA recorded 155 attacks on Last Mile delivery vehicles in 14 countries in the region; Austria, Belarus, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Zimbabwe. Products targeted included tobacco, clothing and footwear, food and drink, cash, car parts, computers/laptops, furniture/household appliances, metal and pharmaceuticals.
  2. Russia dominates cases of Fraud – 61 of the 65 crimes involving fraud in Q3/19 were reported in Russia and involved losses of clothing and footwear, metal, foot and drink, car parts and tyres, cosmetics and hygiene products, furniture/household appliances, and tools/building materials. The criminals’ M.O. frequently involved the use of fake company data as well as fake IDs and documentation to enable offenders to collect loads. Four other countries recorded cases of fraud; Belarus, Bulgaria, France and Germany. These crimes included losses of tobacco and food and drink products.   
  3. 7% of recorded crimes involved violence – In Q3, TAPA EMEA received reports of loss of life and severe injuries as truck drivers were attacked by thieves with guns, knives and, in one case, a machete. South Africa was the country with the highest number of incidents involving violence or threat with violence – 22 of the 42 such cases in Q3/19 – while other attacks took place in France, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.  
  4. Hijackers most active in South Africa – Once again, South Africa recorded the highest number of truck hijackings in the TAPA IIS database as thieves targeted a wide range of goods ranging from losses of two million tubes of toothpaste in Olifantsfontein to thefts of beer, car engines, brass tubing, cigarettes, cheese, nappies, metal and garage doors. 19 of the 23 hijackings in the quarter took place in South Africa. Two incidents were recorded in Italy and there were single attacks reported in Bulgaria and Kenya.
  1. Multiple curtain-slashing incidents – The Netherlands continued to see a high number of cargo thefts and attempted thefts in which thieves cut holes in the tarpaulin sides of trucks to steal the goods inside. These crimes included 26 trucks being targeted on the same night in August at a parking location in Hapert, North Brabant, and 20 vehicles having their curtains slashed on the same day at a gas station on the A73 near Venray. In the latter case, 6-8 offenders were seen acting suspiciously at the parking site.
  2. Recurring M.O. in South Africa – Crimes involving the use of GPS jammers as well as offenders posing as police/traffic officers and using vehicles with blue lights to bring cargo trucks to a stop continued to feature in incident reports in South Africa.
  3. Facilities far more secure than trucks – Only 20 or 3.3% of the 596 incidents recorded in Q3 2019 involved Theft from Facility crimes. 10 of these crimes occurred at Origin Facility sites and five were reported at Services 3rd Party Facilities. Two of these incidents were major losses – the aforementioned €17.4m theft of jewellery/precious metals and the €130,349 loss of fruit juicers. The UK recorded the highest number of attacks on facilities, with eight in total in Q3/19. Other goods targeted in these crimes included coffee, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, sportswear, household products, power tools, cabling, computer equipment, saxophones, tyres, iron rods, and furniture/household appliances. Facilities were also targeted in France, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
  4. TAPA is growing its intelligence reach – The Association’s efforts to build information sharing partnerships with national law enforcement agencies, and other reliable sources of incident data, is giving TAPA members greater insight into cargo crimes in more countries across the EMEA region. The 22 countries recording attacks on supply chains in Q3/19 were 10 more than in the same quarter of last year.   
  5. Don’t cut corners on due diligence – One of the golden rules of supply chain resilience is to know who you’re doing business with. As companies buy more transport capacity via online freight exchanges and regularly outsource work, it is more important than ever to carry out strict and thorough due diligence on every supplier, remembering the growing level of sophistication in fake identification documents etc. One crime reported to TAPA’s IIS in Q3 2019 involved the theft of 17 pallets of Polymer, which had to be collected in Greece and delivered to Romania. A legitimate road haulier received a transport order from a bogus Italian company to collect the cargo. Once the cargo was in transit, the driver was instructed to deliver to Sofia, Bulgaria, instead, where the goods were unloaded in a parking area and the haulier’s paperwork was signed off, enabling the driver to leave. The cargo subsequently disappeared.
  1.  Another all-time high for cargo crime – 2019 was always going to set a new record for supply chain crimes recorded by TAPA’s IIS in the EMEA region even before the Q3 data was released. The quantity of information now accessible to members in the Association’s IIS database means it is now an even more powerful tool to help identify when and where cargo crimes are occurring as well as the modus operandi being used by offenders to ensure the security and resilience of high value, theft targeted goods in transit.  

All of the Q3 2019 data is available to members in TAPA’s searchable IIS database.