For those in the illicit business of stealing shipments of electronics equipment, 2014 was another prosperous year.
The median value of a stolen electronics shipment in the U.S. exceeded $549,000 last year, according to data released Wednesday by cargo security firm CargoNet. More than $42 million of electronics shipments were stolen in 2014, according to data reported to the Jersey City, N.J.-based company. The per-shipment value far surpassed the value of the average pharmaceutical and medical products heist, which came in at more than $355,000.
Electronics had the dubious distinction of also being the most valuable commodity absconded with in 2013, CargoNet data show. However, the value of each shipment ripped off in 2013 was about $332,000, indicating that electronics heists have become significantly more lucrative year-over-year. About $33 million worth of electronics shipments were stolen in 2013, according to data reported to CargoNet.
Although only 3 percent of reported incidents in 2014 involved a loss value of $1 million, those losses accounted for 38 percent of the value of stolen goods, CargoNet data showed.
In all, cargo theft incidents reported to CargoNet declined to 844 in 2014. That's down from 1,098 in 2013. However, the average loss value per incident rose by nearly $38,000 per incident, to more than $181,000, the company said. The overall number was skewed by increases in the value of thefts of electronics, pharmaceutical and medical products, and personal care and beauty items, the three most valuable commodity groups. Declines in stolen-shipment value were reported in food and beverage—which constituted the most stolen commodity—household items, building materials, and vehicles and accessories, CargoNet said.
So far in 2015, more than 120 theft incidents have been reported to CargoNet. Of those, 9.5 percent involved shipments valued at more than $500,000. The firm expects that more than 200 thefts will be reported by the end of the first quarter. The data do not reflect all of the stolen cargo activity that occurs across the country; many incidents go unreported due to the victims' unwillingness to share data with law-enforcement authorities or insurance companies. Companies are also reluctant to go public for fear the incidents might reflect badly on their security programs.
Most of the cargo stolen in 2014 was pilfered from warehouses, according to the report. About 130 thefts came from truck stops. On-the-road trailer hijackings, long the stuff of organized crime lore, rarely occur. Per usual, California, with its huge land mass and proximity to southern border crossings, reported the most thefts by state. It was followed by Texas, Florida, Georgia and Illinois. Georgia recorded the most truck-stop thefts in 2014, with 26.
CargoNet said much of the cargo theft is executed by sophisticated, well-organized syndicates that stalk shipments from the point of origin. These groups will often follow drivers for hundreds of miles and then wait for the vehicle to be left unattended, CargoNet said.