Only two months into the year and TAPA EMEA is already forecasting 2019 will be another record year for recorded cargo crime in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region.

This prediction is based partly on the growing number of data sharing agreements the Association is developing with other supply chain security and law enforcement stakeholders as well as the significant increase in incidents reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) in January and February.

While the monthly data referenced in Vigilant is accurate as the e-magazine goes to press, TAPA EMEA members are also being encouraged to regularly visit the IIS database, where new incidents are being added regularly and increasing the level of intelligence available to help manage risk.

In 2018, the lower level of incidents in the opening months of the year led to questions as to whether the number of freight thefts in the region were genuinely in decline, although the rapid escalation of losses in the second half of the year soon dispelled this optimistic theory. 2019 data shows the level of cargo crime to be accelerating at an even faster pace.

After the 68.7% year-on-year growth in incidents reported to the IIS database in January, last month’s data took this upward curve even higher, with the 285 crimes reported before Vigilant went to press representing a 77% increase over the 161 incidents in February 2018.

The total loss for the month of €9,088,350 – based on the 210 or 73.6% of incidents reporting a value – was up some 38% over the €6.5m recorded in the same month of 2018. Only four of these crimes were classed as major incidents, producing a combined loss of €4,577,080 or an average of €1,144,270. The average loss in February for all incidents with a value was €43,277.

The four major crimes last month were:


A Theft of Vehicle with an Internal M.O. was recorded on 11 February in Aubervilliers in Île-de-France. The cash-in-transit truck in question stopped in an unsecured location while the two guards onboard left the vehicle. They returned to discover the truck and its driver had disappeared, along with the cash. The vehicle was found a short distance away with its doors wide open but the money and driver were nowhere to be found.   


Few details were recorded for this loss of perfumes in Burgerveen, North Holland, on 28 February, which stated the type of incident as Fraud.


Thieves used a tractor unit to steal a parked and unattended shipping container from an unsecured parking place on an industrial estate in Ipswich, Suffolk, in the UK, on 23 February. The diverse range of products inside the container included plates, bath products, brooms, pens, ribbons, clothing and footwear, marine equipment and metal detectors.


Offenders made three cuts in the curtain side of a trailer at a gas station in Liége on 15 February, before breaking the security seal on the rear doors of the vehicle and escaping with five pallets of toys and games.  

17 other crimes produced a loss of over €1m

TAPA’s IIS team also recorded information on 17 further cargo thefts with a value of between €50,000 and €100,000. These culminated in a combined loss of €1,071,279 or an average of €63,016. These included:

·         €86,213 – Whisky was stolen from a truck parked at Watford Gap motorway service area (MSA) in the UK on 6 February after thieves cut a hole in the vehicle’s tarpaulin curtain 

·         €85,000 – A fraudulent deceptive pick-up of a shipment of herbicides from an Origin Facility in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 15 February. The bogus freight forwarder behind the crime has reportedly targeted other consignors previously 

·         €73,568 – Fashion clothing stolen from a motorway services on the M1 in Milton Keynes on 4 February after thieves cut the trailer’s rear door locks and seals

·         €72,524 – A shipment of coffee machines stolen from a vehicle in an unsecured parking place at an MSA in Northampton, UK, on 20 February

·         €64,465 – A cargo of tyres was taken after offenders sliced open the tarpaulin curtain on a truck in an unsecured parking location in Daventry, Northamptonshire, UK, on 20 February

·         €64,372 – Another cargo theft at a UK MSA, this crime at Trowell services on the M1 in Nottinghamshire on 5 February resulted in the loss of a shipment of bicycles

·         €62,944 – Titanium products were stolen from a truck parked in a layby in Kent in the UK on 6 February after cutting open the curtain side of the parked and attended vehicle

·         €62,163 – Newport Pagnell MSA in Milton Keynes, UK, was the location of this loss of computers/laptops on 19 February – another curtain-cutting crime

·         €62,073 – In a similar incident at Tamworth services on the M42 in Warwickshire, UK, on 7 February, a cargo of vacuum cleaners was targeted by thieves

·         €60,782 – Offenders also cut the tarpaulin side of a truck parked in a layby on the A5 in Crick, Northamptonshire, UK, on 20 February in order to steal a shipment of sports clothing

Of the 18 countries recording cargo crimes in TAPA’s IIS database in February, only the United Kingdom and the Netherlands reported double-digit loss rates; 212 or 74.2% and 43 or 14.9% respectively.

58 thefts of Tobacco and eight IIS categories with losses exceeding €100,000

As in January, the IIS product category with the highest number of recorded losses was Tobacco with 58 incidents or 20.4% of the monthly total. These crimes produced losses in excess of €725,000. Four other TAPA IIS categories recorded 10 or more cargo thefts during the month:

·         Food & Drink – 31 or 10.9% of the February total

·         Clothing & Footwear – 12 or 4.2%

·         No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 11 or 3.9%

·         Furniture/Household Appliances – 10 or 3.5%

In terms of product loss values, Tobacco was one of eight IIS categories with total losses of €100,000 or more during the month. There others were:

·         Cosmetics & Hygiene crimes with a value of €782,478 

·         Food & Drink - €742,420

·         Furniture/Household Appliances - €268,470

·         Clothing & Footwear - €260,841

·         Tyres - €196,079

·         Car Parts - €114,253

·         Metal - €106,624

Losses of miscellaneous goods accounted for €600,000 of the February loss total, with goods targeted by thieves including stationery, batteries, fishing tackle, garden furniture, engine oil, optical equipment and gas cylinders.

Theft from Vehicle crimes accounted for 223 or 78.2% of all incidents last month – with 188 or 66% of reports stating Unsecured Parking as the location of the loss.

Incident descriptions of note included:

·         Police in Kampala, Uganda, who were called to a crime in progress at an Authorised 3rd Party Facility on 24 February shot dead four offenders who were trying to steal flatscreen televisions

·         In Runcorn, UK, on 25 February, thieves were able to enter a secured premises after cutting a hole in the roof and stole computers/laptops

·         Earlier in the month, on 5 February, cutting another hole in a roof enabled offenders to steal €11,633 of golf equipment from a truck parked at a Services 3rd Party Facility in Great Hallingbury, Essex, UK

·         Several cargo thefts or attempted thefts were reported in February at Cherwell Valley MSA on the M4 motorway in the UK

·         Police made five arrests after finding a gang of 15-20 men trying to steal food and drink from a truck in Cape Town, South Africa

·         Three men posing as law enforcement officers were among those arrested for the theft of energy saving lightbulbs from an Authorised 3rd Party Facility in Nairobi, Kenya, on 24 February. They were stopped by an undercover police team waiting nearby

·         UK police chased a stolen lorry carrying a cargo of toys and games for 40 miles across three counties before it was brought to a halt. The offender ran away from the scene but was later arrested. The incident started when the vehicle was en route in Leicestershire on 6 February

·         A truck driver who sold his cargo of cosmetics for cash while en route in Namibia on 7 February subsequently staged a traffic accident to cover the crime

·         In Nairobi, thieves stormed a factory and held staff hostage while they tried to steal gas cylinders. When police arrived at the scene they found the offenders had left behind a toy gun, crowbars, an axe and a machete        


·         On 6 February in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, two traffic officers signalled to a truck to pull off the road before one pulled out a gun and forced the driver to continue to another location, where their unspecified cargo was stolen


·         Also in South Africa, TAPA recorded two crimes involving thieves targeting trucks as they stopped at highway intersections in Malabar, Port Elizabeth, and Centurion in Gauteng province.


For the very latest crime data and intelligence, TAPA EMEA members should visit the Incident Information Service (IIS) database.