AFTER FALLING IN JUNE, REPORTED CARGO THEFTS ROSE 33% YEAR-ON-YEAR IN JULY WITH TOTAL LOSSES OF MORE THAN €3.9 MILLION IN 11 COUNTRIES

TAPA recorded 177 freight thefts in 11 countries in EMEA in July 2017, up 33% on July 2016, with losses totalling over €3.9 million.

After the 1% year-on-year fall in recorded cargo crimes in the EMEA region in June, the latest data from TAPA’s Incident Information Service for July 2017 shows a far more familiar trend, rising 33% on the same month a year ago to 177 new freight thefts.

Losses last month were reported in 11 countries in the region.

Of the 177 incidents, 76 or 42.9% provided financial loss data resulting in a combined value for these crimes of €3,960,191. The average loss for recorded cargo thefts in July, based on those giving a value, was €52,108.

€1,821,245 of the losses added to the IIS database last month was attributed to the five major cargo crimes reported during the month:

€700,000

On 9 July, two trucks with no loads were stolen from a Services 3rd Party Facility in Helmstedt in Lower Saxony, Germany.

€590,000

Arguably the highest profile incident in July, however, resulted in the arrests of five members of a notorious Romanian gang believed to have been involved in Theft from Moving Vehicle crimes in the Netherlands. The men were detained following an early morning raid on a holiday park in Otterlo, a village in the province of Gelderland.

The arrests follow a two-year investigation by Dutch law enforcement, according to media reports in the Netherlands. It is believed the gang may have been involved in as many as 17 attacks on moving trucks in Europe, including five in the Netherlands. In September 2016, the threat of such attacks on trucks was raised with the Infrastructure Service department of the National Unit of the Dutch Police by the industry group Transport and Logistics Netherlands (TLN). It transpired that police were already conducting their own secret investigation, operation ‘Pinson’, into the activities of the Romanian gang.

The raid that led to the arrests followed an attack on a truck carrying Phones on a quiet section of the A73 between Venray and Venlo. Alerted by an alarm going off in his cab, the driver stopped his vehicle to investigate, only to discover the back door of the truck had been forced open and a large part of the cargo was missing. Reports say nearly 1,000 phones were taken by the offenders with a value of some €590,000.

It is believed police were able to locate the gang at the holiday park after what one police official called a ‘not smart’ phone call to Romanian. Prior to the raid, plain clothed police officers located in the park closely observed the activities of the gang for several days and were able to identify that the van in front of the holiday cabin was full of boxes.

The 04.30hrs police raid clearly caught the gang by surprise and led to all five Romanians being detained. Outside the premises in a white Hyundai SUV with a German licence plate, police officers recovered boxes of Phones as well as the axle grinder the gang used to cut through the rear door locks of trucks. The roof of the SUV had also been modified to facilitate the gang’s activities, which involved driving the vehicle close to the back doors of a truck, climbing out through the SUV’s roof in order to cut through the moving truck’s rear door locks and then passing products from the vehicle back to accomplices in the SUV.

This remains an ongoing investigation, which Vigilant hopes to look at in more detail later in the year in the form of an interview with Dutch police.    

€200,000

A Theft of Vehicle and its cargo of Tobacco was recorded on 20 July after thieves struck at a Services 3rd Party Facility in Kirchlengern in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. 

€198,561

The Grasmere filling station on the N1 main highway in Cape Town, South Africa, was the scene of this violent truck Hijacking on 21 July. A shipment of vodka was stolen in the attack. Police later found the truck and its driver, who was tied up and locked inside the vehicle, after following a tracker signal. 

The driver told police three armed suspects offloaded the cargo at a different location and police ultimately tracked the stolen goods to a house in Randfontein, one media report stated. Two men have since been arrested.  

A newspaper report in South Africa says Grasmere has been the scene of a number of car and truck hijackings. In May, police arrested a gang of five men near the Grasmere Toll Gate -  allegedly members of a truck hijacking syndicate - shortly after they had attacked a truck carrying some €130,000 worth of pharmaceuticals. The suspects were wearing Metro police uniforms at the time of their arrest. Two of the men were later discovered to have been out on bail for allegedly taking part in an earlier heist at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport.

€132,684

Although the majority of cargo crimes reported to TAPA’s IIS continue to occur in the UK, it was the location of only one major cargo loss in July –  the theft of a shipment of cider from a Destination Facility in West Thurrock, Essex, on 19 July. This was a classic ‘round the corner’ incident. The driver of the truck was approached by someone wearing logoed clothing, who explained there was a problem at the facility and instructed the driver to take the load to a different location. The thieves were subsequently able to steal part of the load before making their escape.

17 losses of between €50,000 and €100,000 resulted in a combined loss of €1,149,410

All but one of the cargo thefts recorded in this loss range took place in the United Kingdom. TAPA has been asked not to report any information on the remaining incident.  

In July, the top 10 losses in terms of value were:

·        €99,728 – Thefts from vehicles at UK motorway services show no sign of abating. This crime at Toddington MSA on 16 July saw thieves escape with car parts after cutting the lock and seal of a parked and attended HGV semi-trailer 

·        €97,263 – Tools/Building Materials were stolen in this Theft of Trailer crime on 10 July which saw the offenders force their way into a secured parking location in Warwickshire and hook up a loaded semi-trailer to a tractor unit fitted with false licence plates

·        €88,323 – Another incident at Toddington MSA. This crime on 3 July involved criminals cutting the locks and seals of a shipping container to steal a shipment of handbags

·        €84,041 – Unspecified cargo was stolen in Derby on 22 July after thieves cut the curtain side and broke open the rear door locks of a truck in a secured year

·        €76,197 – Clothing & Footwear – notably steel-capped work boots – were taken from a parked and attended truck that had stopped in an unsecured layby parking location in Milton Keynes. Once again, the locks and seals of the back doors were broken to access the cargo in this incident on 17 July

·        €63,411 – A Theft from Vehicle crime and the loss of Computers/Laptops on 7 July from a truck in an unsecured parking place in Thornby, Northamptonshire. The thieves cut the tarpaulin side of the vehicle 

·        €62,685 – Baby food was stolen on 2 July as thieves once again forced their way into a secured yard, this time in Northampton, to steal a loaded semi-trailer

·        €61,919 – Bicycle parts were the target when offenders cut the curtain side of a truck in an unsecured parking location close to the Port of Dover in Kent on 15 July

·        €60,890 – On 27 July, bicycle frames were stolen from a parked and attended truck and semi-trailer in Hertfordshire. Thieves cut the back door locks and seal of the vehicle, which was located in an unsecured parking place on the A10 in Broxbourne

·        €56,027 – This Theft of Trailer incident saw the offenders use a stolen tractor unit to steal an unloaded semi-trailer from a secured transport yard in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire.

7.3% of losses involved thefts of Food & Drink

In this loss range, goods were reported stolen in seven IIS product categories, with Bicycles, Clothing & Footwear, Computers/Laptops, Food & Drink and Furniture/Household Appliances all recording two incidents. The other product categories with single losses were Car Parts and Tools/Building Materials.

Overall for the 177 newly-reported cargo crimes in July, only two product categories saw 10 or more losses:

·        Food & Drink – 13 or 7.3% of the month’s total

·        Furniture/Household Appliances – 10 or 5.6%

Theft from Vehicle crimes accounted for 129 or 72.8% of the July 2017 total. No other type of incident reached double figures last month. As is usually the case, most losses involved trucks that had parked in Unsecured Parking locations – 130 or 73.4% of incidents during the month.

Three cases of violence involving migrants in Belgium, France and Greece

TAPA EMEA’s IIS database recorded 11 crimes with the M.O. of Violent or Threat with Violence. These occurred across seven countries; three incidents in France, two each in Italy and South Africa and single cases that were reported in Belgium, Germany, Greece and the UK.

Three of these crimes involved Clandestines:

·        18 July – A truck driver disturbed migrants trying to board his vehicle at the Port of Patras in Greece. During the incident, the driver was hit of the head with stones and needed hospital treatment

·        21 July – A driver en route in Calais noticed migrants trying to board his truck. He was hit on the head with a brick after getting out of the vehicle to investigate

·        31 July – Migrants attacked three drivers trying to defend their vehicles in an unsecured parking location in the A14 in Gentbrugge, Belgium

Incidents continue to mount at UK motorway service areas  

Incident reports shared with TAPA’s IIS by British law enforcement agencies contributed to the 109 or 61.5% of crimes recorded in the United Kingdom in July. The Netherlands and Germany accounted for a further 39 of the July total. 20 or 11.2% of these incidents took place in the Netherlands, with Germany recording 19 or 10.7%.

Once again, Vigilant has to report multiple cases of cargo crime or attempted crimes involving offenders targeting trucks at UK motorway service areas. This includes attacks on 30 vehicles in one night – 17 July – at Birchanger Green MSA in Bishop’s Stortford, Essex, and eight curtain-cutting crimes on 19 July at Hartshead Moor Services in West Yorkshire. In addition to the previously stated incidents at Toddington MSA, July also saw crimes reported to TAPA’s IIS at:

  • Abington Services, Scotland
  • Blyth Services, Nottinghamshire
  • Clacket Lane Services, Surrey
  • Corley Services, Coventry
  • Hopwood Park Services, West Midlands
  • Northampton Services, Northamptonshire
  • Thurrock Services, Essex

Products stolen in July also included:

·        Car doors, mirrors and lights

·        High grade steel

·        Washing power

·        Glue

·        Chainsaws

·        Toys

·        Televisions

·        Confectionary

·        Vacuum cleaners

·        Sporting helmet cameras

·        Home lighting products

·        Coffee

·        Cash

·        Lipstick

·        Cooking utensils

·        Rucksacks

·        Shoes

·        Microwave ovens

·        Phones