We have a problem. On top of all the other challenges our industry faces, we're getting ripped off every day - quite literally, in fact. I'm referring to truck cargo crime, a problem that costs $5 billion in this country and half-a-million...
We have a problem. On top of all the other challenges our industry faces, we’re getting ripped off every day – quite literally, in fact.
I’m referring to truck cargo crime, a problem that costs $5 billion in this country and half-a-million dollars a day in the GTA alone according to various sources and highlighted in the CTA report on cargo crime in Canada released last spring.
But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. This type of crime is being perpetrated by large organized criminal enterprises that use the proceeds to fund drugs and weapons smuggling, fraud, human trafficking and other illegal activities detrimental to society, including misconduct that could be a threat to national security.
Cargo that is stolen and sold in illegal markets shifts revenues from legitimate businesses to criminals and depletes tax revenues. And – most disturbingly – it is becoming increasingly violent, putting hard-working truck drivers and other industry employees at grave risk.
Police and insurance companies estimate that as much as 60% of cargo crime incidents go unreported. Carriers complain that even when the authorities are alerted, cargo crime doesn’t have a high enough profile to receive much of a response. That’s a conundrum.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Other than a few proactive police divisions scattered across Canada, too many people perceive cargo crime as being victimless.
Its effect on the economy is also underappreciated. There is very little communication among regional police forces and it also doesn’t help that truck and cargo thefts don’t get categorized independently from most other property crimes.
They’re often handled as burglaries and, as anyone who’s ever reported their kid’s bike stolen surely knows, recovering stolen goods isn’t usually a big priority for police. Historically, penalties for perpetrators do not seem to match the seriousness of the crime.
Meanwhile, the problem continues to worsen. The rate of thefts is climbing with more types of cargo being targeted than ever before. Food shipments, including fresh food, now rival high-value, easy-to-sell products like electronics as the most commonly stolen types of goods.
So what can and should be done about it? For the first time, all of the major stakeholders – the police agencies, the insurance sector, government and the trucking industry – are working collaboratively in an effort to more effectively combat the problem. The issue is finally getting some much-needed attention from the national media. Recently passed federal legislation aimed at curbing auto theft and the sale of stolen property by organized crime syndicates through stiffer sentences could also apply to tractors, trailers and cargo theft. (If this is so, it will still take the Crown Attorneys and the courts to seek and to hand out the stiffer sentences upon conviction).
And then there’s us. The industry is its own best safeguard against cargo crime. Motor carriers are doing more to protect themselves, like: conducting more vigilant personnel security screening; route risk assessments; and investing in cargo security systems for equipment and facilities.
But more needs to be done and everyone needs to get on-board. If we as carriers don’t take the lead, we can’t expect others to fight the problem for us. One major stumbling block is the lack of a nationwide cargo crime database. Information from the trucking community is necessary to gain additional resources, understand the true extent of the problem and create countermeasures to better deal with it. There’s no central agency that currently collects such data. Therefore, it’s up to us.
To address this, CTA recently teamed up with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to implement a new CTA Cargo Crime Incident Report form.
The form is an essential first step towards establishing a nationwide database. Each time your company experiences a cargo crime such as theft, fraud or a hijacking, it is essential that you go to our Web site ( www.cantruck.ca) and fill out the online Incident Report form and click on the appropriate box to automatically e-mail it to us and print a copy for yourself.
The information will be shared only with IBC (not individual insurers) and the law enforcement community. The carrier’s identity is kept completely confidential.
Since we launched the form a few weeks ago, CTA has been processing two or three reports a day. That’s a great start towards finding solutions to this problem but we need to keep it up and everyone needs to get involved. I encourage all carriers to make use of this new tool as a simple step towards combatting cargo crime.