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Understanding the Pandemic’s Influence on Cargo Crimes

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound and complex effects on the global supply chain. A year into it, we now have hindsight into how unprecedented lockdowns and challenging reopenings are playing out for manufacturers, logistic services providers, and the pandemic’s effect on the constant threat of cargo theft.

    Transport Topics News reported last month that CargoNet, a theft prevention and recovery network, recorded a 16% increase in supply chain risk events across the United States and Canada in 2020 compared to 2019. CargoNet recorded that the average theft was valued at $166,334 in 2020, up 19% from a year earlier, partially due to the robbery targeting expensive shipments of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies used to fight the pandemic.

    Last month, TT Club and BSI released a report on cargo crimes in 2020 that reveals an “increase in dynamic global cargo theft risks,” reported by The Loadstar. The report also found that criminals shifted to target the immeasurable amount of PPE shipments and expensive medical equipment critical to the country’s COVID-19 response.

    Logistical bottlenecks, more common during the months of lockdown, also played a part in the increase in cargo crimes. The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) warns of logistical bottlenecks, or backlogs are a prime target for increased organized crime. TAPA reported that cargo theft from freight vehicles in transit remains the most dominant threat but points to a significant increase in theft from warehouses globally, specifically in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.

    In the U.S., increased cargo theft raises an especially severe threat as the country continues to execute its critical COVID-19 vaccine rollout involving billions of dollars worth of vaccines shipping over the coming months, with a single shipment worth as much as $70 million, reported Bloomberg Businessweek. Thorsten Neumann, chief executive officer of the TAPA’s European arm, was quoted in the same article on the threat of cargo theft to the U.S. vaccine rollout as posing “the biggest security challenge in a generation.”

    In December, the International Criminal Police Organization Interpol issued an orange alert notice cautioning a severe increase in armed robberies of vaccine shipments.

    This increase in cargo theft comes at a painful moment for manufacturers and the global economy at large.

    The silver lining is that the advanced technology and innovation of the security packaging product industry help manufacturers across the globe protect shipments. Global companies depending on a secure supply chain are leveraging high technology and thoughtful solutions to combat theft.

    We are proud to be part of this effort here at Secure Applications. We have long recognized the crucial role that product security plays in business growth and economic recovery.