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December 07, 2011
Deadly Consequences of Cargo Theft

Sales of stolen goods, particularly pharmaceuticals, may hurt large-scale public health in the U.S., according to a cargo theft analysis conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

"Cargo theft is not only a property crime that hurts the national economy, it can have a serious impact on public health and safety," stressed Jow Wehrle, NICB president & CEO, in the group's 2010 National Cargo Theft Report.

"In one case, a load of insulin was stolen and stored at a warehouse while the thieves made arrangements to sell it on the black market," he said. "There is no way to know if it was properly refrigerated during storage, and unsuspecting consumers may have been at tremendous risk had they used tainted insulin."

"The public health impact is the most frightening part of the cargo theft problems," Brian Smidt, vice president of NICB Data Analytics, told Fleet Owner. "We’re seeing an increase in theft of medicines and pharmaceuticals from previous years because it’s far more valuable. And these goods are not like stolen DVDs or televisions; if they aren’t stored properly, they can cause serious physical harm."

NICB said there were 747 cargo thefts across the U.S in 2010 with an estimated loss value of $171 million; most freight was stolen from trucks or railroad cars, althought the group stressed intermodal and air freight shipments are vulnerable as well.

That number may be quite low as the FBI estimates cargo theft costs the U.S $15 billion to $30 billion a year, resulting in an estimated 20% markup in retail prices for customers.

The occurence of cargo theft may be even higher, however, since some businesses are reluctant to report thefts out of concern for their reputations or insurance premiums, the agency noted.

According to NICB research, the states with the most cargo theft incidents were California (247), Texas (91), Florida (66), Illinois (56), Tennessee (40) and Georgia (39). Electronics were most often the theft target (139 thefts) followed by food (108) and clothing (73). February saw the most thefts with 113 followed by August (78) and June (76).

SOURCE: FleetOwner Magazine

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