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Cargo theft decreased in 2022 globally, South Africa new “wild west’ for cargo theft

Much like in 2021, there has been a decrease in cargo theft incidents worldwide as per the 2022 Cargo Theft Report by BSI, TT Club, and TAPA EMEA.

Despite the year-over-year reduction in documented cases, the report notes that there has been a consistent rise in criminals targeting essential goods such as food and beverages, automotive and truck components, and fuel. This trend has been largely attributed to the macroeconomic influence of inflation and its impact on criminal behavior.

In 2021, cargo crime was mainly characterized by extended idle periods and immobile cargo. However, during the second half of 2022, a shift towards pre-pandemic conditions occurred as global trade volumes declined, resulting in fewer supply chain disruptions that had built up throughout the pandemic and a reduction in cargo awaiting transport at ports and in transit.

Alongside the gradual shift towards stealing basic goods and the continued theft of high-value items like electronics, there has also been a change in the types of theft.

As the movement of goods slowed and port congestion subsided, a pattern of reduction in thefts from facilities and increased thefts from containers and trailers have been reported, while hijackings have declined globally.

This trend has been noted to have intensified in countries experiencing significant social unrest, such as Peru and Bolivia, where cargo movement is stalled, and hijackings have subsequently decreased.

The report outlines the cargo crime trends that shaped 2022 supply chains and offers organizations recommendations for mitigating these threats in order to better anticipate emerging risks in 2023.

South Africa – the ‘wild west’ for supply chains in EMEA

As per the report, while cargo-related crimes occurred across 78 countries in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, according to intelligence reported to TAPA EMEA, incidents in South Africa were particularly notable in terms of frequency, violence, and value, making these a major concern for stakeholders operating within the country.

Even though many cargo thefts in the EMEA region remain unreported annually, as they are often categorized under broader vehicle and commercial crime classifications, the report states that South Africa continues to experience thousands of attacks on supply chains each year.

These attacks reportedly involved large, armed gangs frequently and often resulted in drivers, security personnel, and law enforcement officers losing their lives as innocent victims of cargo crime or while pursuing suspects.

While cargo crimes are prevalent in all nine provinces of South Africa, over 60% of attacks on facilities and trucks occur in Gauteng province and unless other international data suggests otherwise, South Africa maintains its position as the EMEA region’s undisputed “truck hijacking” capital, with criminals often impersonating police or traffic officers to stop cargo vehicles and carry out their crimes.

In the country’s most impoverished areas, successful attacks on supply chains can yield significant financial gains. Major crimes reported to TAPA EMEA in South Africa in 2022 resulted in an average loss of €1,093,000, primarily involving truck hijackings or cash-in-transit robberies.

Other frequently targeted products included car parts, clothing and footwear, cosmetics and hygiene products, food and beverages, metals, and tires.

Cargo theft losses reported to TAPA EMEA in South Africa in 2022 included:

  • €5,994,652 – clothing and footwear stolen from an Origin Facility in Durban
  • €5,458,860 – cobalt hydroxide taken from a warehouse facility in Gauteng province
  • €4,745,897 – theft of car parts en route in Eastern Cape
  • €2,250,000 – trailers/goods stolen from an Origin Facility in Kempton Park, Gauteng
  • €2,161,407 – car parts stolen in Eastern Cape
  • €1,185,824 – 1,540 cases of liquor stolen in a truck hijacking in Western Cape
  • €575,580 – copper stolen in a truck hijacking in Johannesburg
  • €486,316 – theft of car parts in Eastern Cape
  • €356,350 – 38 tonnes of copper rods and 4 trailers stolen in Ehlanzeni, Mpumalanga
  • €323,908 – fuel taken from an Origin Facility in Limpopo
  • €120,000 – groceries stolen from a truck on the N2 highway in Gqeberha

South African Police Service (SAPS) data alone revealed a 9.8% year-over-year rise in truck hijackings in Q4 2022, with a total of 492 incidents over this 92-day period. Overall, TAPA EMEA recorded over €29 million in product losses from supply chains across the country in 2022 – based on only 6% of all reported cargo crimes sharing a loss value.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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  1. Interesting post! I appreciate the insights in this post. It’s important for companies to stay vigilant and take proactive measures to mitigate risks like cargo theft and supply chain disruptions.Hope to see more great content from you soon!


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