Cargo theft from containers is, unfortunately, a tale we often hear. It’s also a tale as old as container shipping itself.
CONTAINER CARGO THEFT – A Frustrating But Avoidable Story
BSI and TT Club reported that theft of cargo in transit accounted for 71% of all modalities in 2020. Although this was actually down from 87% in 2019, losses from warehouses and other storage facilities also increased from 10% to 25% during the same period – an eyewatering but understandable uptick considering the sheer number of containers stuck in locations across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent years, a much talked about issue for shippers has been the rise of ‘cyber piracy,’ with tech-savvy thieves and other criminals hacking into the automated and connected systems relied upon in the supply chain, allowing them to wreak havoc. Operations are halted entirely or completely disrupted by malware that manipulates information related to things like manifests, rates, and delivery dates. Organized criminals use this to coordinate and obfuscate their own theft operations and exploit vulnerable containers as vessels for moving illicit cargo.
The intermodal shipping container has barely changed since its inception in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the rear cargo doors with their easily defeated hinges, locking bars, and hasps are a great friend to thieves on every continent. Whether a container is being stored or in transit, it’s often low-hanging fruit.
There’s no magic bullet to stop the compromise of standard containers. Shippers can detect and combat theft with different locking mechanisms, tracking systems, and environmental sensors, but ultimately a door is a door.