EDMONTON, Alta. – With cargo theft becoming a national concern, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announced the expansion of its reporting program into Western Canada Dec. 8 in Edmonton.
“A study by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) estimates that cargo theft costs Canadians $5 billion annually,” said William Adams, IBC vice-president of the western and pacific regions. “The insurance industry is taking action to help fight this.”
The brainchild of the CTA five 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 U.S. The information is maintained in a national database and analysed regularly to identify trends and patterns.
“Essentially by doing this, IBC connects that dots by bringing all key stakeholder groups into the loop,” said Adams. “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.”
That partnership includes with the four Western Canadian trucking association – the B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA), Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA), Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) and Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA).
Dan Duckering of the AMTA said that when he was nominated as chair of the association he thought he’d be working diligently on behalf of the industry.
“What I’ve come to recognize now…is that more often than not, I’m actually fighting on behalf of the general public,” he said, highlighting road safety and the environment as examples. “Our issues for the most part are public issues as well. Everything that you have and handle, at some point was on a truck, and it’s the number one used way in Canada for the movement of goods.”
BCTA president and CEO Louise Yako said her association supported the cargo theft program, not only to recovery stolen goods, but also as a deterrent to thieves.
“The safety of truck drivers, the relationships between carriers and their customers, and reasonable costs of business and for customers are all at risk if cargo theft continues unchecked,” Yako said.
Al Rosseker, STA executive director, said cargo theft drives up the cost of consumer prices, insurance and law enforcement tasked with investigating the crime.
MTA executive director Terry Shaw said, “By working with law enforcement and raising awareness, industry is better equipped to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to understanding trends in cargo crime.”
One of the trends, according to Adams, seems to be a move toward ‘highly sophisticated criminal rings’ responsible for cargo theft, which he said were linked to gangs, guns and even terrorism.
“Cargo theft is a unique crime. It’s low risk and it’s high reward,” Adams said. “It’s not confined to a specific demographic or geographic-type location, it’s a global problem.
“Trailer loads often carry consumer goods worth thousands, perhaps even millions of dollars. Stolen merchandise can be sold through sophisticated distribution networks often long before they are even reported, making cargo theft an appealing option to organized crime in Canada.”
Edmonton Police Services superintendent Bradley MacDonald concurred.
“Cargo theft is becoming more and more a crime of critical importance for the Edmonton Police Service not only for us in terms of Edmonton and the scope of the city, but also throughout the province and the country,” he said. “This is not just a crime of opportunity, but very organized in how it’s played out.”
“It’s not a victimless crime, and it’s a crime that goes on largely unnoticed and unreported,” Duckering echoed, adding that limited reporting was a frustration, and thankfully insurance companies have taken notice of rising costs and recognized the need to instigate the program.
Duckering said that since the cargo theft reporting program was implemented in Eastern Canada in 2011 it had proved that cargo theft was costing Canadians ‘an untold amount of money’ and that it was the best way to help recoup some of those costs.
“The pilot program led to multiple recoveries of trailers,” Adams added, “with loads as diverse as food, beer, household goods and in one instance, over $80,000 of non-perishable goods that hadn’t even yet been reported stolen.”
Adams said the pilot program “was a critical and important first step in the gathering and sharing of consistent information on these crimes,” and that the IBC’s partnership with the trucking associations was like a dragnet working to recover stolen cargo.
All parties agreed that the public was a key stakeholder in helping to minimize cargo theft.
“I believe as we raise awareness,” said Duckering, “that will improve the reporting as people start to recognize what suspicious activity looks like, which also improves our ability to enforce, investigate, follow up and ultimately prosecute for these crimes.”
Anyone who believes they have witnessed suspicious activity with relation to cargo theft is encouraged to call 1-877-IBC-TIPS or report the incident online at IBC.ca.
The IBC is Canada’s national trade association that represents property and the casualty insurance industry across the country, representing about 95% of the private insurance market, a $45 billion a year industry.
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