Road cargo theft in Latin America

By Iván Huertas Gil, Head of Communications - ALSUM

The Latin American Association of Marine Underwriters – ALSUM – undertook a research study to identify the most common features of cargo theft in Latin America. The study found that the main causes of theft in the region can be grouped into opportunity (taking advantage of the moment), negligence or carelessness, and impunity (low rate of legal punishment or prosecution). On the other hand, the most commonly stolen goods usually fall under the following criteria: 1) they meet basic needs such as food or nutrition (canned food, rice, coffee, dairy products, sugar, etc.); 2) clothing, textiles, and footwear; 3) trend products such as mobiles, laptops, home appliances and tech, which are very popular in the black market throughout the region; 4) products of mass consumption (liquors, perfumes, cigarettes, toiletries); and 5) pharmaceutical products.

The research also identified that the main ways cargo was being stolen was: impersonation (the offender impersonates one of the people in the supply chain), complicity (someone within the supply chain is an accomplice to the crime), violence (the use of guns and force) and last but not least, sophisticated theft (including cyberattacks and hackings). According to the study, the usual ways to access the goods are assault on trucks, alliances between thieves and carrier or storage personal, and cyber sabotage.

Theft is a plague that is constantly evolving, criminals perfect their techniques daily and acquire new technologies. That is the reason why all the players in the supply chain should implement strategies and modern equipment to manage the risk and its subsequent impact in the insurance industry. The study recommends to all those involved in the carriage of goods to have as much information on the cargo as possible and implement safety programmes. Furthermore, it is necessary to understand that the insurance provided to the carrier cannot replace the insurance acquired by the cargo interest.

The study, named “White Paper on theft of cargo by road in Latin America” can be viewed on ALSUM’s website in the section “Publications”. This document is available in Spanish, and will soon be available in English.