The escalating incidence of cargo theft on our highways is a problem that won’t go away anytime soon.
At least not until the risk versus reward scenario takes a 180-degree turn.
The problem gained public awareness during a recent W-5 episode.
I happened to be couch-bound, practicing the fine art of channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon, when I happened upon the program.
Part of their report included an interview with a convicted cargo felon.
I was surprised to hear him say that even if he gets caught, he usually ends up with a slap on the wrist so in most cases, the reward makes it well worth the risk.
This guy had something like 24 convictions while serving just six years behind bars.
Think about it, if he’s been convicted 24 times, how many times has he gotten away with it?
You’d think a load of plasma TVs or comparable high-ticket item would be ‘the pot of gold’ – but not so.
The flavours of the day are household items, the kind that can be purchased most anywhere. Apparently, in a matter of hours, a load of diapers can be unloaded and sold down the line making it virtually impossible to catch the well-connected thieves.
It seems the majority of occurrences take place throughout the Toronto-Montreal corridor, but the scary thing is, it can happen anywhere, anytime.
I’m not an expert in criminology and I don’t know how a criminal mind operates (I also don’t know how they sleep at night) but common sense tells me that no load is worth physical violence or even worse, death.
The tragedy of Donald Woods comes to mind.
He was killed over a $40,000 load of chicken.
And they say we live in a civilized society.
Try telling that to his grieving widow.
As the W-5 report was airing, I couldn’t help but compare the problem to the old western Stagecoach robberies.
In order to ward off bandits, the operators reverted to hiring armed escorts.
If you were ‘riding shotgun,’ it was your job to keep the cargo of the day (mostly people) safe and secure.
Maybe an enterprising security company should start training modern day truck escorts.
A little far-fetched considering the cost, but I’m betting it would put a big dent in the criminals’ proceeds.
Unfortunately, until our justice system reverses the risk/benefit equation, nothing is going to change.
– Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and he can be reached at 416-510-5123.