Crime stoppers (January 01, 2000)

TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has fed $25,000 to Crime Stoppers as part of a new three-pronged strategy to help combat cargo theft in the province.

“The rise of equipment and cargo theft and the more recent involvement of organized crime is a great concern to the trucking industry,” says David Bradley, OTA president. “It makes the timing of the introduction of the OTA’s theft prevention initiatives critical.”

The donation from fleet members is to pay anonymous “tipsters” who offer leads resulting in the conviction of cargo thieves.

“A good many of our callers are a little closer to the action than they would have you believe,” adds Det. Chief Supt. Wayne Frechette of the OPP. And he sees nothing wrong with paying criminals to turn their cohorts over to authorities.

He contends that given the nature of modern capitalism, if you’re currently a cargo thief, there will eventually be someone who sees more value in telling on you than protecting you.

But the OTA effort also involves sharing the information about stolen equipment.

Developed by the American Trucking Associations, the centralized theft reporting database now links information about thefts across the U.S. and into the province.

Police also hope to use the database to spot patterns and visualize trends.

“It’s going to make our job easier,” says OPP Det. Chief Supt. Wayne Frechette. “It should serve as a wakeup call for policing to get our act together.”

He says lack of communication between departments is one of the largest advantages the thieves have, but the database should help overcome that.

“We hoping to open it up across Canada very soon,” adds Bradley. “I’ll be taking it to the provincial managers within a couple of weeks… I can’t see there being any objections.”

Fleets, meanwhile, will be educated about preventing thefts in the first place through a new “best practices” publication from the association and endorsed by several major insurance providers.

“In Canada, cargo theft is estimated to be a $1-billion (per year) growth industry,” says Supt. Ron Taverner of the special investigations unit with the Toronto Police. But he says these new efforts will make it easier for law enforcement to work to reducing that number.

Truck News will also begin next month to offer highlight details of specific crimes, to help in the Crime Stoppers search.

As well, the OTA will provide posters and decals to its member carriers to help raise awareness both of Crime Stoppers and the growing problem of cargo theft.

Says Bradley, “We want to fight back as an industry.” n

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