EDMONTON, Alta. – It was just over a year ago when the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announced the expansion of its cargo theft reporting program in Western Canada, and thus far, the high number of reported incidents has stood out.
“The high volume of reports surprised us the most,” IBC national director for investigative services Garry Robertson said of the program’s inaugural year. “And as more agencies come online, they will only increase. The reports are continuing to climb as people become aware of the program. This is new on the list of known and documented criminal activities, so as people become more aware, the reporting increases.”
Robertson said the cargo theft reporting program has established a strong foundation in Western Canada with the support of various trucking associations, major police agencies and significant media coverage.
The creation of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) six years ago, with a pilot program launched in 2011 in Ontario and Quebec, the cargo theft reporting program allows insurers and trucking companies to report cargo theft and claims information to the IBC online, through the CTA or a provincial trucking association. The IBC then distributes the information through its investigative team to regional partners across the country and in the US. The information is maintained in a national database and analyzed regularly to identify trends and patterns.
“Essentially by doing this, IBC connects the dots by bringing all key stakeholder groups into the loop,” said William Adams, IBC vice-president of the western and pacific regions, during last year’s announcement in Edmonton. “We don’t do any of this alone. That’s why it’s so important for everyone involved – law enforcement, motor services agencies, insurers, trucking associations, firms and other stakeholders – to build strong partnerships and to share information that will assist in our common objectives.”
Reports during the first year in Western Canada indicate that grocery items continue to make up the brunt of cargo stolen at 62%, with automotive-related parts and accessories making up 25% and construction items 13%.
“Thieves are typically looking for everyday use items that are easily redistributed to smaller retail outlets across the country and beyond,” Robertson said. “The stolen goods are often sold through legitimate businesses such as flea markets and small discount stores.”
The Greater Toronto Area maintains its place atop the pedestal as Canada’s cargo theft hub, but Robertson cautioned that any major metropolitan area can be targeted.
“Those involved in cargo theft are looking for easy access,” he said. “Any location that is close to major highways that enable them to get in and out quickly may see a substantial amount of cargo theft.”
Robertson said the program needs full participation from all stakeholders to continue to be a success in Western Canada and beyond. This includes reporting from law enforcement, as well as trucking and insurance companies.
“The more data that can be obtained the better the likelihood of a successful investigation,” Robertson said.
Last June during the British Columbia Trucking Association’s Annual General Meeting and Management Conference, IBC director of investigative services for the western and pacific regions Dan Service concurred, saying, “Without the data coming in, we don’t have a starting point,” and urged trucking companies to report cargo theft immediately upon learning of the incident.
Service revealed in June 2016 that very few reports were coming in from Western Canada, particularly in B.C. But as Robertson suggested, the number of reports did increase as the year progressed, and more companies were aware of the program.
Dan Duckering, immediate past chairman of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, said during the launch of the cargo theft reporting program in Western Canada that he believed the number of reported crimes would go up once awareness was raised, which would in turn improve the program’s ability to enforce, investigate, follow up and prosecute for the crimes.
Robertson feels the IBC has implemented an excellent program to battle cargo theft in Canada and best employ law enforcement resources, while helping consumers, retailers, insurers and the trucking community.
“Prior to IBC’s efforts, this was a hidden crime with billions of dollars lost,” Robertson said. “We are starting to open the door on this activity and shine a light on this highly lucrative criminal enterprise. This was an important and much needed initiative, because if cargo theft goes unreported, property recovery and prosecution becomes a challenge.”
It is estimated that cargo theft costs Canadians $5 billion a year.
Anyone who believes they have witnessed suspicious activity with relation to cargo theft is encouraged to call 1-877-IBC-TIPS, report the incident online at IBC.ca or contact their provincial trucking association immediately.
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