Perils of slash-and-grab

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The best way to learn about the nitty-gritty of the haulage business would be to go down to Italy on a truck, my boss decided. That’s why, as a young reporter, I found myself in the passenger seat of a Volvo Globetrotter heading for Rome with a groupage load.

The only problem, warned driver Bob, was the risk of hijacking – particularly prevalent in southern Italy in those days.

“What do you do if that happens?” I asked.

He reached under his seat and pulled out the biggest machete I’d ever seen. “This…” he said.

Malory Davies, Editor.

The image of heroic drivers fighting off hijackers came back to me when I was reading the TT Club’s annual cargo theft report for 2018.

It turns out that hijacking is only the second most common type of theft, accounting for 18 per cent of incidents globally. In fact, the most common is slash-and-grab at 27 per cent. And lorries are by far the most common target – 84 per cent of all theft are from lorries, compared to 13 per cent from facilities and only one per cent from rail.

The most common commodities stolen are food, drink and tobacco at 30 per cent. Consumer products come second at 13 per cent.

The report, produced in partnership with BSI Supply Chain Services and Solutions, takes a global view of trends in cargo theft.

In Europe for instance, it points out that lack of secure parking for trucks is a major driver of cargo theft. And it highlights the fact that drivers’ hours rules can force drivers to park up at insecure locations. Thieves primarily relied on the slash-and-grab tactic, which accounted for nearly 50 per cent of incidents.

In Asia, theft from facilities was the most common type at 43 per cent of all thefts. Hijacking was second at 19 per cent. In North America, hijacking was the most common type of theft at 37 per cent, while in South America it accounted for 52 per cent of all cargo thefts.

Not surprisingly the report includes some advice on minimising risk and it highlights the insider threat. TT Club’s Mike Yarwood says: “Criminal organisations are increasingly recruiting employees of targeted companies to gain data, cargo information, delivery routes and destinations and access to IT systems. Due diligence in recruiting and managing staff is paramount. In general full or part-time salaried staff are less of a security risk than sub-contractors.”

In recent times, it has been the potential disruption due to Brexit, or protectionist trade policies, that has tended to dominate discussion of supply chain risk. So this report is timely as a reminder that cargo theft is still a massive problem and should not be forgotten.

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