Combined cargo crime intelligence for March and April 2021 recorded by TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) includes losses of goods worth nearly €7 million in 26 countries in the Europe, Middle East & Africa region, as well as several fatalities and the arrests of police officers involved in a truck hijacking in South Africa.
In total, TAPA’s IIS received reports on 274 cargo thefts or attempted thefts in the 61 days of March and April. Only 105 or 38.3% of these incidents shared a loss value, totalling €6,926,727 or an average for these crimes of €65,969.
Eight of these theft reports provided insights into major cargo thefts of goods worth €100,000 or more, averaging €464,826. These included:
On 3 March in Kelvin, South Africa, police received information on a planned armed robbery of a truck carrying a consignment of Phones. Upon arrival, police officers came under gunfire from the suspects and retaliated. Fourteen offenders were subsequently arrested, while others escaped on foot. One security guard and one suspect were fatally shot.
A truck driver and his assistant waiting to deliver a shipment of cigarettes to a Destination Facility in Vienne, France, on 30 March, were approached by four offenders and forced to move the truck to a dead end road and park next to a van. The driver and assistant were then instructed to transfer the load of cigarettes into the van before the offenders torched the delivery truck and escaped.
Three offenders with firearms stole a shipment of jewellery and gold in Lyon, France, on 26 March, as it was being transferred to a delivery vehicle. Their escape vehicle was later found burnt out.
In Coslada, Spain, on 27 March, police officers recovered a truck and unspecified cargo that had been stolen from a parking place in Pinto, Madrid.
7,500 thermometers were stolen from a facility in Istanbul, Turkey, on 17 March after thieves entered the building at night and loaded their own truck. Using CCTV footage, police traced the truck to a local logistics company and recovered the cargo at its premises. Three suspects reportedly confessed to the crime.
In Rheinbollen, Germany, offenders broke into a trailer on 15 March and stole a load of coffee machines.
In another major cargo crime in Germany in this latest reporting period, a shipment of phones was stolen from a facility in Egglosheim, Bavaria, on 7 April.
IIS intelligence received in March and April also included news of the arrests of two employees who allegedly stole over €100,000 of cargo over a six-month period from an Aviation Transportation Facility in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, UK.
TAPA EMEA also received reports of a further 13 incidents with loss values of between €50,000 and €100,000. These produced total and average losses of €806,073 and €62,082 respectively.
The incidents TAPA EMEA is authorised to report in Vigilant were:
- €89,628 - In Saint Petersburg, Russia, on 29 March, 20 tonnes of tobacco was stolen after the driver unloaded the cargo at an unauthorised location on the orders of a person unknown;
- €88,838 – Another tobacco theft with the same M.O. was recorded in Russia on 25 March;
- €57,903 - Police recovered 5,561 remote controlled cars after executing a series of successful warrants at a commercial premises in Redditch, UK. The cars were stolen during a burglary at a commercial premises in Evesham in December 2020;
- €56,216 - In Moscow on 5 March, a driver used falsified documentation to collect a shipment of miscellaneous goods. The driver and cargo subsequently disappeared;
- €50,000 - On 15 April, 45 televisions were stolen after thieves cut the tarpaulin of a truck at a parking lot in Brandenburg, Germany.
Of the 26 countries recording new cargo thefts in TAPA’s IIS database in March and April, the top five were:
- United Kingdom 76 incidents or 27.7% of the two-month total
- Germany 71 or 26.0%
- South Africa 31 or 11.3%
- Russia 14 or 5.1%
- Hungary 13 or 4.7%
In over 50% of loss reports in March and April, the types of products stolen were either unspecified or recorded as miscellaneous. The 18 IIS product categories suffering incidents included five with double-digit losses:
- Tobacco – 22 or 8.0% of the March/April total
- Food & Drink – 19 or 6.9%
- Clothing & Footwear – 14 or 5.1%
- Tools/Building Materials – 12 or 4.4%
- Furniture/Household Appliances – 10 or 3.6%
Theft from Vehicle was the most recorded type of incident, with 84 incidents or 30.7% of the total. It was one of 10 incident categories with losses, which also included:
- Theft – 57 or 20.9%
- Robbery –23 or 8.4%
- Theft from Facility – 21 or 7.7%
- Fraud – 17 or 6.2%
- Theft of Vehicle – 15 or 5.5%
- Hijacking – 15 or 5.5%
- Theft of Trailer – 14 or 5.1%
- Theft from Trailer – 14 or 5.1%
- Clandestine – 11 or 4.0%
The top five types of locations for March/April losses – excluding the 127 crimes where the locations were unknown – were:
- Unclassified Parking Location – 75 or 27.4%
- En Route – 22 or 8.0%
- Destination Facility – 22 or 8.0%
- Services 3rd Party Facility – 18 or 6.6%
- Maritime Transportation Facility – 5 or 1.7%
Intrusion – in most cases cutting holes in truck tarpaulins and breaking open the rear door locks of vehicles to identify and steal goods - accounted for over half of the two-month total. As already highlighted, several crimes in this reporting period included extreme violence and fatalities. Violence & Threat with Violence was the M.O. reported for 29 or 10.6% of incidents, while Deception Other was the other type of M.O. to reach double figures with 17 incidents, most of which took place in Russia.
The improving weather conditions appears to be increasing the number of cases involving migrants being discovered onboard trucks as they attempt to cross borders. The types of includes in March/April included:
- 114 Afghan and Pakistani migrants discovered after Turkish police stopped a truck in the eastern city of Van, close to the border with Iraq;
- Turkish authorities also found 55 people inside two shipping containers at the port of Izmir. The containers were destined for Italy.
Migrants were also discovered onboard vehicles in France Germany, Macedonia, and the United Kingdom. Tragically, four migrants died in Hungary when the truck they were hiding in overturned. A number of other people were injured in the accident which involved a vehicle transporting heavy paper rolls. In another incident, Afghan migrants admitted they had paid €1,500 each to stowaway on a truck bound for Italy.
Other brief intelligence updates from data recorded in the IIS database in March/April included:
- On 2 March, four tonnes of linoleum was stolen by a driver using fake documentation from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Moscow, Russia;
- A truck carrying electronics was forced to stop and was robbed in Polokwane, South Africa, on 2 March. Police later recovered some of the cargo as well as pistols and ammunition;
- 232 tyres were stolen from a vehicle in Foggia, Italy, on 3 March;
- Offenders torched a truck carrying a shipment of cigarettes after targeting the vehicle in Marseille, France, on 3 March;
- On 4 March, thieves entered a transport yard in Castleford in the UK and stole a trailer loaded with sports goods;
- Guardia Civil in Spain arrested four thieves who stole electrical appliances from a truck parked at a rest area in Campotejar while the driver was asleep inside his cab;
- Thieves used a forklift truck and an HGV to steal 40 tonnes of food and drink from a Road Transportation Facility in Featherstone in the UK on 5 March;
- 20 tonnes of copper were taken over the weekend of 6 March from a warehouse in Ludenscheid, Germany;
- On 9 March, deception was used to steal a consignment of sports equipment from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Shehelkovo, Russia;
- A large shipment of paracetamol was taken from a truck in Dodworth, UK, on 9 March;
- On the same day, police arrested nine suspects in connection with the violent hijacking of a vehicle carrying copper in Cape Town;
- On 10 March, 11 pallets of leather goods were stolen from a vehicle parked overnight at a truck stop in Mellingen, Germany;
- Offenders dressed in metro police uniforms were captured on CCTV as they attempted to hijack a truck travelling on the N3 in Johannesburg on 12 March;
- On the same day, 26 pallets of beverages were stolen from a truck in an unclassified parking location in Dausfeld, Germany;
- Also on 12 March, a member of the public spotted two delivery drivers removing products from their trucks into a car just outside of the logistics yard in Piacenza, Italy, where they worked;
- In another truck hijacking in South Africa on 14 March, a driver was held for 13 hours while thieves organised the theft of the two trailer loads of copper he was transporting. The vehicle has broken down on the R23 in Heidelberg and awaiting a mechanic when four men in a vehicle stopped and threatened the driver;
- Two police officers and a third offender were arrested after hijacking a truck in Johannesburg, South Africa;
- On 19 March, a suspect was arrested by police in Cholet, France, after breaking into 18 trucks at an unclassified parking location. A passing motorist spotted several trucks with their cargo doors open and notified police, who found boxes of goods strewn around the parking lot;
- On the same day, thieves in Russia used deception to steal 20 tonnes of polyethylene from a facility in Tyumen;
- On 21 March, two offenders posing as police officers attempted to rob a truck near Hurth, Germany, after forcing the driver to leave a motorway and park on a quiet country road;
- 12 trucks had their tarpaulins slashed at Fleet Motorway Services on the M3 in Hampshire, UK, on 23 March;
- 20 tonnes of alcohol were stolen from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Omsk, Russia, on 23 March in a crime involving fraud and deception;
- On 25 March, falsified documentation also enabled a driver to collect a shipment of meat in Stolin, Belarus;
- On 29 March, South African police commenced a surveillance operation after being advised that a local gang were targeted truck drivers queueing at a border point. One suspect was killed in a shoot-out between the gang members and law enforcement officers;
- On 1 April, a shipment of tobacco was stolen from a truck in Limehouse, UK. CCTV showed a car in front of the truck which had stopped after the driver claimed its handbrake had become stuck. The thieves are believed to have entered the back of the truck during this disruption;
- On the first day of April, TAPA’s IIS was notified of 16 incidents in London involving Theft from Moving Vehicle crimes;
- Between 1 and 5 April, the curtain sides of seven trucks were cut at Northeimer Autohof in Germany;
- On 6 April, a truck en route in Krefeld, Germany, was overtaken by a car. The passenger in the car waved a police badge at the truck driver and ordered him to stop in a layby. He was then threatened with a gun by the offenders and robbed;
- On 11 April, two security officers died after being shot during the robbery of a truck carrying food and drink in Langa, South Africa.
- TAPA EMEA was notified of three trailer hook-up thefts around Immingham and Goole, UK, between 14-19 April;
- On 22 April, hundreds of components and several carbon fibre mountain bikes were stolen from a warehouse in Almelo in the Netherlands;
- A security guard was shot and killed in another truck hijacking in South Africa on 29 April;
TAPA EMEA members can find all the latest incident intelligence reported to the Association in its online Incident Information Service (IIS) database.