Supply chain congestion ramps up threat of cargo theft

BSI TT Club theft report

Widespread congestion at ports and inland facilities has lead to increased opportunity for thieves during the period according to a new report.

BSI and TT Club have released its latest annual report about the cargo theft risks present across the globe – based on recent incident data for the whole of 2021 collated from sources including law enforcement agencies, governments, and trade associations.

Key findings from the study have shown that incidents at storage facilities rose to nearly 30 per cent globally as the surge in idle times increased cargo targeted at rest, with the emerging risks of insider theft.

The report illustrates that products most frequently involved in global cargo thefts over 2021 included agricultural produce (12 per cent), food and beverage (14 per cent), construction materials (9 per cent) and electronics (10 per cent).

Many of the materials used to produce construction materials and electronics have experienced sharp price increases since the outbreak of the global pandemic, with a consequent increase in the value of the manufactured products.


Looking at the global picture, the report has found that the prevalence of port congestion and railhead delays in North America has been a crucial factor in the increase of cargo thefts.

Idle times in European locations have also augmented stowaway risk, while the strict COVID-19 protocols at Asian ports, particularly in China, have created delays and backlogs leading to more theft opportunities.

As the development of new technologies brings new possibilities, BSI and TT Club have outlined the downside this has had on cargo theft: “Criminals have adopted new tactics to target the changing environment for freight transportation.

“The growing reliance on technology and a rapidly changing market for sourcing materials and components have increased reliability and effectiveness, but also opened up new avenues of opportunity for criminals to take advantage of companies’ increased vulnerabilities.”

Tony Pelli, BSI’s Practice Director for Security and Resilience, produced a checklist of precautionary action points: “To mitigate risk there are a range of safeguards, including careful verification of trucking companies and other sub-contractors; insisting on the provision of details such as driver’s name, trailer number and appointed pick-up times and background screening of employees.“

The report has also been compiled with input from the Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region.

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