Cargo theft – anything but a victimless crime: Revised IUMI position paper

By Hendrike Kühl, IUMI Policy Director

Throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe theft of cargo, alone or with the vehicles, has reached alarming proportions. It is a global challenge with a huge negative impact on people and the supply chains they work in. Cargo theft is a global phenomenon with a wide range of modi operandi. Increasingly popular among criminals are more innovative ways of stealing goods which take advantage of constantly growing online connectivity. Instead of merely targeting a specific truck and its cargo, many criminals now take advantage of more sophisticated methods such as posing as legitimate transportation companies or jamming vehicle tracking systems.


It is often stated that cargo theft is a victimless crime. This is a major misunderstanding as the truck drivers who are vital enablers of trade are directly threatened by increasing violence related to cargo theft. It is also a large burden to society as the costs caused by stolen cargo, business interruption and loss of reputation do not simply disappear but are factored into the pricing of the products which are moved around the globe every minute of every day.


The urgency with which this issue needs to be addressed is reflected in IUMI’s revised position paper. Closer transnational cooperation between law enforcement agencies across borders is a key component to effectively combat these crimes. The paper outlines several measures to support improved and more effective cross border coordination, and calls for a higher density of high-security, accessible and affordable parking spaces. Recommendations for industry stakeholders provide guidance to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cargo theft aiming to prevent such losses in the first place.


The data reported to TAPA’s (Transported Asset Protection Association) Incident Information System clearly show that cargo theft is on the rise rather than declining. IUMI’s call is therefore unequivocal: Policy makers around the world need to tackle this problem by increasing resources for law enforcement agencies, enabling improved transnational cooperation and by the creation of a large number of safe and secure parking spaces.


The paper will be released on 17 September 2019 and can be accessed HERE