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Cargo crime on rise as recession bites

WHILE piracy grabs the headlines, inland supply chains face more sophisticated but equally brutal thieves, and the recession will make things worse. The Transported Asset Protection Association has warned that the global economic downturn will lead to an increase in cargo crime on logistics facilities and trucks, the latter sometimes with the threat of violence. The association, made up of shippers, freight forwarders, cargo carriers and law enforcement agencies, said: “We know from previous recessions that crime increases. UK government statistics, for example, reported a 19% increase in violent crime during the recession of the early 1990s. “We expect 2009 to be one of the toughest years of the last decade in terms of cargo crime statistics.” Latest statistics from the association’s Incident Information Service for Europe, the Middle East and Africa show 3,756 reported incidents of cargo crime during 2008 with a total loss value of more than €170.6m ($217m). This figure will continue to grow, with incident data still being collated for last year. The head of ISS, Gilad Solnik, said that the downturn will see consumers turn to “cheaper alternatives” mainly “stolen or counterfeit goods in the parallel markets”. While organised crime remains the number one threat, Tapa says that recession-driven staff cutbacks, leading to more temporary employees and fewer supervisors, will provide thieves with the opportunity they require. “We refer to the theft triangle of motivation, rationalisation and opportunity. Being unemployed or earning less produces the motivation. “Then comes the rationalisation: everybody is doing it and stealing from a large corporation is seen as a legitimate activity. They argue that they are stealing from the people responsible for the crisis. “Finally, comes the opportunity. More temporary staff are being taken on, while they may be fewer supervisors because the control level has been stretched to cut costs. Less supervision means more opportunity, particularly for the first time opportunistic thief.” Risk management remains key, says Tapa: “The figures we are starting to see for 2008 reinforce our message that no one can afford to be complacent about cargo crime. “Tapa members have been seeing a reduction in their overall losses, especially compared to the rest of the industry. However, we expect the level of threat to increase considerably as a direct result of the economic downturn.”

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