RFX Blog

More Thieves Targeting Truckers for Their Pay Loads

September 10th, 2012

Trucking Thieves

Image Source: NBC News

Cargo theft has become a silent epidemic and is now considered one of the costliest crimes in America. Sadly, many companies have stopped reporting these losses partially due to fear of having it negative effect the company’s reputation and also because of how difficult it is to prosecute since cargo is extremely difficult to trace. It is estimated that more than $35 billion is lost every year in the United States. In the end, it is the consumer that ends up paying for these crimes with higher priced goods to offset the losses.

Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP)

Cargo theft happens, on average, three times each day in the United States. In California incidences occur twice as often as any other state. This proliferation of this type of theft has led the California Highway Patrol to form the Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) which is a team who works with numerous law enforcement agencies to curb this particular form of organized crime. To get to the heart of this matter, NBC news has reported that one of their investigative reporter teams went undercover with the CTIP. The team watched as the CTIP worked to track down stolen shipping containers, rode along on sting operations, and reviewed surveillance video.

How It Is Done

Cargo thefts are often committed by members of organized crime and this problem is occurring on an international level. Xavier Spencer, a member of CTIP, said: “A lot of times these guys will go park their trucks at the truck stop and go inside and clean up or get something to eat and they come out and their trailers and tractors are gone. Somebody just stole it within 30 seconds.” Other times, thieves will unlock the doors of the trailers with locksmith-like skills and unload the cargo by hand. For a quick getaway, some thieves will attach their own cabs to trailers and drive away with the whole load. The contents are then stored in warehouses and sold for profit.


There were 1,215 cargo theft incidents in the United States reported by the National Insurance Crime Bureau in 2011, which is a 17% increase from 2010. The top three states affected by cargo crime include California, Texas and Florida. These three states account for 623 of the total cases – more than half. To paint a larger picture: California, Texas, Florida New Jersey, Illinois and Georgia account for more than 75% of all cargo theft that takes place out of all fifty states. The most commonly stolen items are food, electronics, metals and clothing.

Crime and Punishment

One reason cargo theft is becoming more and more prevalent because it is a low-risk, high-reward situation when it comes to getting caught. The penalties for this crime currently only carry minor criminal charges when compared with other theft crimes. For example, if half a million dollars worth of cargo is stolen, the criminal may face six months in jail, but if they were caught with half a million dollars worth of cocaine the penalty is 10 years. Also, it is difficult for the police to prove that the merchandise recovered was actually the stolen goods. This means that District Attorneys are less likely to take on these cases. These facts only further the reasons why many trucking companies often do not report these crimes.

How to Stop Cargo Theft

Cargo thieves must be caught and held accountable before there will be any relief to the increasing occurrences of this crime. Technology can aid in this fight with the use of tools such as Skybitz, which acts similar to a GPS in order to track equipment used by Refrigerated Food Express. This tool allows for the owners to ping any trailer on Google maps to determine its location at any given moment in time. Investigators can use this to help recover stolen properties and it also puts them one step closer to finding the perpetrators, solving these crimes, and helping hard working truckers get the paychecks that they earn.

Posted on September 10th, 2012 in Trucking Industry