Recorded cargo thefts across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region have crossed €55 million in the first six months of 2019, according to reports put out by the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA), a global security expert network for supply chains. This amounts to €305,000 per day in theft, which according to TAPA, is the highest to be recorded yet — with the data following the trend of increasing cargo theft reports over the last four years.
TAPA derives its data from about 600 major manufacturers across several industries, including tobacco, food and beverage, fashion, pharmaceutical, automotive, electronics and furniture, while also collecting data from freight forwarders, law agencies and insurance firms.
However, these reports are by no means exhaustive as the lack of comprehensive data on cargo theft in the EMEA region makes it impractical to gauge the change in cargo theft numbers over the years.
TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) database gathered intelligence on 3,981 cargo theft incidents last year but already has collected data on 4,198 crimes in the first half of 2019. Although this points to an increase in the crimes recorded in the TAPA database, it does not clearly reflect the absolute cargo theft numbers across the EMEA region.
“While these figures should set alarm bells ringing for manufacturers and the cargo industry, they are still only a fraction of the full impact of freight losses in the region. Less than 30% of the losses in Q2/19 provided any financial data and, even more significantly, it is important to remember that we can only share intelligence on the thefts reported to our IIS database,” said Thorsten Neumann, president and CEO of TAPA EMEA.
“The vast majority of crimes still are not being reported to us but we, and other associations we are engaged with, estimate the true cost of loss to be billions of euros every year in our region,” he continued.
Nonetheless, insights gathered from such discrete cargo theft incidents can be used to reinforce security across supply chains. TAPA works with law enforcement agencies (LEAs) across the EMEA region to battle crime. Neumann stated that LEAs across France and Germany have been particularly receptive to building the public-private partnerships, with them helping TAPA record more than 2,000 cargo attacks in H1 2019, compared to a meager 68 reported attacks in H1 2018.
That said, the lack of clarity in cargo theft also could be due to the existence of several watchdogs that operate in silos, with none the wiser on the crimes being left out or redundancy in reporting. For instance, the U.S. has platforms like CargoNet, Carrier411 and TIA Watchdog, which operate separately and thus have a data disconnect on reported incidents.
Within the cases of cargo theft, the majority of the hijacking attempts happened on trucks, with 57.4% of all crimes in Q2 2019 involving theft from trailers, theft of vehicles and theft of trailers. TAPA said in its statement that “61% of these crimes featured trucks in unclassified parking locations. Increased security at warehouse operations in EMEA contributed to just 51 cases of theft from facility, 3.4% of Q2 total.”
From the TAPA database, it can be gleaned that the number of cases reported in European countries is generally much higher than the cases reported in the poorer sections of the EMEA region.
France, Germany, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, South Africa, Belgium, Romania and Italy accounted for 91.8% of all incidents added to the TAPA IIS database. Although these statistics do single out Europe on the frequency of crimes that happen, they are not necessarily accurate, as data from countries in Africa are generally not accessible, thus skewing metrics.