Road Haulage News and Jobs

Monday, 23 November 2020


With nearly 3,500 new cargo thefts already reported to TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) in the first seven months of 2020, combined crime data for August and September has reinforced the fact that cargo criminals are ‘back to work’ with a vengeance after the disruption of the COVID peak as year-to-date recorded losses broke through the €100 million barrier.

Based on incident intelligence published in the last three issues of Vigilant alone, data for the first nine months of 2020 shows:

  • €112,492,666 – total losses reported to the IIS database with a value
  • >€70,000,000 of products stolen in 119 major incidents
  • >€588,000 – average loss for major cargo thefts
  • >€410,000 – average daily loss for the 274 days in this period

Latest cargo crime reports for August and September show an additional 502 incidents recorded by TAPA’s IIS, with key figures for these 61 days of the year stating:

·       €23,282,877 – value for the 68.9% of crimes sharing financial data

·       >€17,000,000 of losses attributed to 20 major thefts of goods worth €100,000 or more

·       €861,611 – average loss for major cargo thefts

·       >€381,000 – average loss for each of the 61 days

The average loss for all thefts with a value in August-September stood at €67,291.

The major incidents over these two months in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region included:


On 28 August, five armed offenders used a roadblock to stop a cash-in-transit van at the 7th Arrondissement in Lyon, France, and threatened the security guards at gunpoint. After stealing the cash onboard the armoured truck, they torched the vehicle before escaping the scene.


After gaining access to a secured premises in Bury St Edmunds, UK, on 31 August, thieves stole an HGV and trailer loaded with a cargo of unspecified products.


In Marignane in the south east of France on 8 September, the driver of a truck carrying a large shipment of cigarettes was forced to stop by four offenders and removed from the vehicle, which was later found abandoned and burnt out in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues.


On 30 September, a consignment of toys/games was stolen from a hard-sided trailer in an unsecured truck park in Grace-Hollogne, Belgium, where the driver had made an overnight stop. The offenders cut a hole in the trailer doors and removed the products box by box from the pallets inside.


Thieves burst into a warehouse in Odintsovo, Moscow, on 7 September and threatened a guard and employees with pistols before stealing around two million surgical masks and 600 electric thermometers. The offenders also stole money, mobile phones and watches. Police have since arrested four suspects in relation to this crime.


In Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, on the 9 September, 662 laptops were stolen from an Authorised 3rd Party Facility. The subsequent investigation revealed that the gang conducted reconnaissance on the warehouse and monitored it constantly before executing the crime. The police investigation uncovered the identities of the criminals, leading to their arrests. The stolen items were also recovered, along with tools used in the attack.


At least 12 offenders armed, with assault rifles, ambushed a cash-in-transit van in Bonoua, Ivory Coast on 16 September. Sadly, the CIT driver was killed by gunfire during the assault and two others were injured before the attackers escaped.


Medical devices worth at least half-a-million euros were stolen from a vehicle in Rothenstein, Germany, over the weekend of 28 August.


Two offenders stole a truck with 80,000 surgical face masks from a Destination Facility in Chevilly-Larue, France, on 4 September. Police, however, were able to track the vehicle using its onboard GPS system and arrested the offenders.


On 21 August, in a layby at Water Newton, Cambridgeshire, in the UK, thieves cut a hole in the tarpaulin curtain of an HGV trailer to steal a large quantity of cosmetic products.


In a similar attack on 26 August, a cargo of electrical goods was stolen from an HGV parked in an unclassified location on a road in London, UK.


In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 21 September, a company noted the tracking activation device of a recently departed truck was scrambled. They tracked the truck to Old Uitenhage Road in Kleinskool where it was found abandoned. Its cargo of 90 bales of Mohair was later found scattered in an open field in Soweto-on-Sea.


On 12 September, thieves stole two tractor units and a trailer worth €180,000 from the Origin Facility of a manufacturing company in Hamm in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. 


Metal products were taken from an HGV in an unclassified parking location in Doncaster, UK, on 19 August after offenders cut the curtain side of the vehicle and forced open its rear doors.


On 27 August, an offender claiming to be a member of staff at a secured premises in Stockton-on-Tees in the United Kingdom requested a set of keys to an HGV loaded with an unspecified high value shipment. After driving the vehicle away from the site, the goods were transferred to another HGV but the entire load was later recovered by law enforcement officers.


A shipment of alcohol was stolen from a truck parked at a motorway service area in Haddon, UK, on 18 August after thieves cut the back door padlocks and seals of the attended vehicle.


Offenders climbed onto open freight cars of a train transporting ferrous scrap metal in Gryzai, Russia, on 16 September, and threw around 850kgs of metal onto the side of the tracks, which they intended to collect later. However, whilst dumping the cargo, some of the metal fell onto the track causing several freight cars to derail. Two offenders were arrested by police.


Miscellaneous goods were stolen from an HGV and trailer parked at a motorway service area in Wolverhampton in the UK on 20 August.


In Straubenhardt, Germany, on 1 August, three offenders broke into company premises and ransacked the facility before stealing the keys to several company vans. The offenders then stole three empty trucks and fled the scene. Police were able to track the vehicles via GPS and located them in Prague in the Czech Republic, where the offenders were also arrested.

In addition to these major incidents, TAPA’s IIS recorded a further 18 cargo thefts with loss values of between €50,000 and €100,000. These included: 

  • €85,000 – the theft of a parked and unattended tractor-trailer truck in Wittenberg, Germany, on 3 August, which was later found abandoned on the A12 in Frankfurt
  • €81,127 – two trailers with no loads were hitched up and stolen from an unclassified parking location in Lymm in the North West of England on 29 August
  • €75,448 – in Alvechurch in the UK on 6 August, miscellaneous goods were stolen from an attended HGV at a motorway service station
  • €75,315 – a truck loaded with alcohol was hijacked in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 3 September and driven to another location to be offloaded. With the help of a security tracking company, police managed to recover most of the stolen liquor at a warehouse near Schoenmakerskop
  • €64,000 – 42 televisions were stolen from an HGV on 27 August in Guxhagen, Germany
  • €51,644 – computers/laptops were stolen from an HGV and trailer on 26 August, which was parked at Trowell motorway service area in the UK
  • €50,922 – another truck hijacking in South Africa. In this incident in Bedfordview on 11 September, a gang of offenders stole a shipment of grocery products. They were discovered by police later the same day as they were offloading the cargo from the stolen trailer unit. Police also recovered firearms and a GPS jamming device
  • €50,099 - truck hijackers were also active in Cape Town, South Africa, using a jamming device to help steal a vehicle loaded with 36 pallets of sparkling wine. The fully loaded truck was later found on 18 September and several arrests have been made


Over this two-month reporting period, TAPA received reports of cargo thefts in 26 countries across the EMEA region. The increased level of incident reporting resulting from TAPA EMEA’s new MoU with NaVCIS in the United Kingdom meant it continued to be the country with the majority of crimes recorded in the IIS database, with 333 or 66.3% of the August/September total.

Only six other countries in the region reported double-digit incident rates to IIS over the two months:

·       Russia – 39 incidents, 7.8% of the Aug/Sep total

·       Germany – 35 or 7%

·       Italy – 16 or 3.2%

·       South Africa – 13 or 2.5%

·       Spain – 13 or 2.5%

·       France – 12 or 2.4%

Of the 18 TAPA IIS product categories recording loss reports, Food & Drink and Tobacco accounted for 60 or 11.9% and 51 or 10.2% respectively. The other product categories seeing 10 or more cargo thefts were:   

·       No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 19 (3.8%)

·       Furniture/Household Appliances – 19 (3.8%)

·       Clothing & Footwear – 17 (3.3%)

·       Metal – 14 (2.8%)

·       Cosmetics & Hygiene – 11 (2.2%)

·       Toys/Games – 10 (2.0%)

Theft from Vehicle crimes accounted for 336 or 66.9% of cargo theft incidents, well ahead of the 60 or 7.2% of crimes involving Fraud, the 32 or 6.4% of cases of Theft of Vehicle, and the 28 or 5.5% of crimes recorded as Theft from Facility.

Vehicles stopping in Unclassified Parking Locations – often due to the lack of secure truck parking options – incurred the greatest risk in this reporting period. This was the type of location stated in 296 or 59% of the cargo crime intelligence reports sent to the TAPA IIS team. The other main times of known locations for freight thefts in August-September were:      

  • Services 3rd Party Facility – 46 (9.1%)
  • En Route – 39 (7.8%)
  • Destination Facility – 32 (6.4%)
  • Origin Facility – 13 (2.6%)

Reflecting the fact that most cargo crimes involved thieves cutting open the tarpaulin curtains of trucks or forcing open vehicles’ rear doors, Intrusion was the most recorded type of M.O, seen in 64.3% of reports over the two months or 323 of all incidents.      

Other incident reports of note in August-September included:

  • Eight offenders were killed by police officers in a shoot-out after they initiated a robbery at a Destination Facility storing machinery parts in Nairobi, Kenya, on 23 August
  • 16 cargo thieves were arrested by police after a failed robbery from a freight depot in Boksburg in South Africa’s Gauteng province
  • On 9 September, offenders targeting a truck and its cargo in Milan, Italy, used a narcotic gas to overcome the driver as he slept in his cab
  • While cars and SUVs are usually used to help facilitate Theft from Moving Vehicle crimes, on 17 August in Pontypridd, Wales, thieves used mopeds in an attempt to slow down and attack a truck carrying food and drink products

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