The type of theft this blog will address goes way beyond shoplifting. We are talking about theft on a grand scale.
Simplicity is the key to these thefts. To steal huge shipments of valuable cargo, thieves pose as truckers, load the freight onto their own tractor-trailers and drive away with it. How easy is that? As reported in www.journalgazette.net.
This type of theft has allowed con men to make off with millions of dollars in merchandise each year, often food and beverages. How can this continue to happen? One would think companies would verify the trucking company right?
Yet the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal freight.
This seems like a storyline right out of the HBO series “The Soprano’s.” A generation ago, thieves simply stole loaded trucks out of parking lots. But the industry’s widening use of GPS devices, high-tech locks and other advanced security measures have pushed criminals to adopt new hoaxes.
It seems like the Internet plays a role in almost everything these days. It should come as no surprise that it is playing a role here too. The Internet offers thieves easy access to vast amounts of information about the trucking industry. Online databases allow con men to assume the identities of legitimate freight haulers and to trawl for specific commodities they want to steal.
All of my loyal readers know that theft affects all of us!
One obvious victim is our nation’s trucking industry. Besides hurting this industry – which moves more than 68 percent of all domestic shipments – the thefts have real-world consequences for consumers, including raising prices and potentially allowing unsafe food and drugs to reach store shelves.
Here are just a few examples of the thefts: 80,000 pounds of walnuts worth $300,000 in California, $200,000 of Muenster cheese in Wisconsin, rib-eye steaks valued at $82,000 in Texas, 25,000 pounds of king crab worth $400,000 in California.
The Hughson Nut Co. fell victim twice last year, losing two loads valued at $189,000. Again, how can this happen? Do you think it was an inside job? Each time, the impostor truckers showed up at the California nut processor with all the proper paperwork to pick up a load of almonds.
The economic results go beyond adding a few nickels or dimes to retail prices. The consequential damage from stolen cargo easily run into the millions of dollars, far exceeding the value of the lost shipments. For example, a stolen load of pharmaceuticals might necessitate a worldwide recall of every drug with that lot number to ensure none of the product ends up back in the market in case it gets tampered with.
The scheme works like this: Thieves assume the identity of a trucking company, often by reactivating a dormant Department of Transportation carrier number from a government website for as little as $300. That lets them pretend to be a long-established firm with a seemingly good safety record.
Then the con artists offer low bids to freight brokers who handle shipping for numerous companies. When the truckers show up at a company, everything seems legitimate.
The thieves target mostly shipments of food and beverages, which are easy to sell on the black market and difficult to trace. Some end up on the shelves of small grocery stores. Other frequently stolen items include steaks, shrimp, energy drinks, ice cream and other frozen foods.
Currently, three to five truckloads of freight are stolen each day in the United States.
Do you think educational theft programs would help resolve this situation? Perhaps more awareness could help prevent these situations. What thoughts do you have on this issue?