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Blue lights, slash & grab, strategic cargo theft patterns – 2023 had it all – TT Club/BSI

  • Cargo theft continues to pose significant risks in 2023 worldwide
  • Road transport was the biggest victim accounting for 71% of cargo theft
  • Mexico, the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, South Africa, and Argentina were the top countries for cargo theft..

Cargo theft continues to pose significant risks to supply chains worldwide with the increasing complexity and sophistication of criminal tactics..

The need for robust mitigation measures has never been more crucial as per the recent BSI and TT Club Cargo Theft Report 2023 which provides valuable insights into global cargo theft trends, highlighting the importance of proactive risk management strategies..

Cargo theft happens in various forms, including theft from facilities, hijacking, and theft from vehicles.. Road transport was the biggest victim in 2023 accounting for about 71% of cargo theft..

cargo theft trends 2023
Data : TT Club/BSI Report

Top commodities & factors

The report identified food and beverages, electronics, and automotive parts as the top commodities targeted in 2023, reflecting their high value and market demand..

Mexico, the United States of America, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, South Africa, and Argentina were the top countries for cargo theft..

Top countries for Cargo Theft - BSI and TT Club Cargo Theft Report 2023

Food and beverage were the top commodities stolen with the theft in this industry increasing from 16% in 2022 to 21% in 2023 which the report attributes to macroeconomic factors such as rising commodity prices, inflation, and supply chain disruptions..

While sophisticated criminal gangs exploited weak security measures to perpetuate violent cargo thefts in Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, and Peru, South African thieves have been leveraging corruption and deception to facilitate their criminal activities..

As per the report, “Goods transiting through South Africa face a significant hijacking risk, especially with the presence of “blue light gangs.”Blue light gangs impersonate police officers by disguising themselves in police uniforms and using blue lights on their vehicles to mimic police cars, tricking the drivers to pull over. The perpetrators then commandeer the truck and steal the cargo.

Regional Cargo Theft Case Studies

The report provides several case studies in other areas as well, highlighting the diverse nature of cargo theft..

  • Europe has seen an increase in fictitious pickups, where criminals pose as legitimate drivers to steal high-value goods.. In one notable case, a fictitious pickup in the Netherlands resulted in the theft of over $1.8 million worth of goods..
  • Europe has also seen the prevalence of slash-and-grab theft where thieves are slashing the tarpaulins of road trucks and stealing goods mainly in Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands..
  • The rise in olive oil prices by 75% from January 2021 to September 2023, has given rise to a significant increase in thefts in major production countries like Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Greece.. Such incidents highlight the vulnerability of high-value commodities to organized crime..
  • In the USA thieves are using “strategic theft patterns” such as identity theft and fraud, fictitious pickup, double-loading schemes, and double/triple brokering to steal shipments from warehouses and freight facilities..
  • Not to be left behind, Asia recorded the highest rates of insider participation in cargo theft compared to other regions.. The report states that in 2023, 26% of recorded cargo thefts in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh involved insider participation..

Risk Mitigation Strategies

The report suggests that effective risk mitigation strategies are essential to combat the threat of cargo theft emphasizing the importance of due diligence, robust security measures, and collaboration among industry stakeholders..

By implementing the key mitigation measures below, logistics operators can better protect their assets and ensure the resilience of their supply chains :

  1. Enhanced Security Protocols: Investing in advanced security technologies, such as GPS tracking, electronic seals, and surveillance systems, can deter theft and aid in the recovery of stolen goods..
  2. Training and Awareness: Regular training for employees on security best practices and awareness of the latest theft tactics can help prevent incidents and ensure quick response to potential threats..

  3. Collaboration and Information Sharing: Industry collaboration through partnerships with law enforcement, trade associations, and security organizations can enhance threat intelligence and enable coordinated responses to cargo theft incidents..

Addressing region specific cargo theft challenges

Different regions face unique challenges in combating cargo theft.. In North America, the rise of strategic thefts targeting high-value goods like electronics necessitates stringent security measures at every stage of the supply chain..

In South America, addressing the violent nature of thefts requires collaboration with local law enforcement and community engagement to enhance security..

In Europe, the prevalence of fictitious pickups and slash-and-grab thefts calls for better vetting of drivers and secure parking facilities.. The report highlights the need for region-specific strategies to address the diverse nature of cargo theft and ensure effective risk mitigation..


Cargo theft remains a significant challenge for global supply chains, but with proactive risk management and robust mitigation measures, it is possible to safeguard assets and ensure operational continuity..

The insights from the BSI and TT Club Cargo Theft Report 2023 underscore the importance of collaboration, technology, and strategic planning in combating this threat..

By staying informed of the latest trends and implementing comprehensive security protocols, logistics operators can build a resilient supply chain capable of withstanding the evolving threats of cargo theft..

Investing in security not only protects assets but also enhances customer trust and operational efficiency, ensuring long-term success in the competitive global market..

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


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