Cargo theft - Key trends

  • In Asia, BSI and TT Club most frequently recorded cargo thefts in India and China. Cargo thieves in these two countries are similar in profile and employ a wide-range of tactics. Methods range from very opportunistic means, such as pilferage and thefts by drivers, to more organized tactics, including in-transit truck thefts, where thieves drive a vehicle behind a moving cargo truck, board the vehicle, and then throw goods to trailing accomplices.
  • The lack of secure parking for cargo trucks is a major driver of cargo theft trends in Europe. All major countries of concern for cargo theft in the region, such as the United Kingdom and Germany, lack secure parking locations. Regulations that limit the length that cargo truck drivers can operate before taking a mandatory break also exacerbates the lack of secure parking and often forces drivers to stop in vulnerable locations.
  • Unlike other regions in the world, BSI and TT Club most commonly recorded cargo truck hijackings as the primary type of theft in the Middle East and Africa. Poor security enforcement in most countries, combined with the widespread presence of weapons, enables thieves to conduct violent cargo truck hijackings with relative impunity. BSI most frequently recorded cargo truck hijackings in South Africa and Egypt in 2018.
  • BSI notes that new statistics released by the South African police for last year reveal a 6% increase in the number of cargo truck hijackings, driven primarily by a 109% increase in incidents in Western Cape over the previous year.
  • North America balances between two types of cargo theft, the more reserved thefts of unattended cargo trucks that BSI and TT Club record in the United States and Canada and the aggressive and often violent, hijackings characteristic of Mexico and the majority of Central America. Thieves in the United States and Canada most frequently steal unattended cargo trucks parked at unsecure locations, including truck stops and gas stations. Hijackings in these two countries are extremely rare.
  • No other region in the world suffers from a higher rate of cargo truck hijackings than South America. BSI and TT Club recorded cargo truck hijackings in almost every country in the region during 2018, with thefts in Brazil accounting for the clear majority of collected incidents. The country continues to suffer from the highest rate of cargo truck hijackings in the world, with annual incident numbers totaling in the tens of thousands. Thieves occasionally steal goods from freight facilities and warehouses and target electronic shipments, as well as other goods such as food and beverage, automotive, and tobacco products.


Following investigation, the report suggests critical considerations when developing policies, procedures and awareness:

  • Implement layers of defence, starting with physical security, followed by clear management-level procedures and policies.
  • Operate a least-privileged principle, where information and access are limited to a need-to-know basis.
  • Employ a sound communication policy both internal and external considering the use of mobile devices and social media.
  • Frequent awareness briefings and training programmes to educate all employees on best practice.
  • Conduct comprehensive threat assessments to determine the threat landscape and understand the potential exposures.
  • Risk assessment and risk treatment options can then be reviewed and implemented to ensure a robust system is in place to prevent incidents where possible and equip employees to detect and respond in cases which could not be prevented.
  • Vetting of third-party providers.


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