SWEDEN RECORDED 196 CARGO CRIMES IN 2016, UP 493.3% - SO, WHAT’S BEHIND THIS INCREASE?

The National Transport Security Group of the Swedish Police are the latest law enforcement agency in EMEA to share incident data with TAPA…

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States summed it up perfectly: ‘An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.’

In other words, the more you know, the better the results, and this is most certainly true in the world of supply chain security. It also explains why TAPA EMEA members place so much value on the Association’s Incident Information Service (IIS). They use its incident alerts and online cargo crime database to help protect their goods in transit, to avoid or to take preventive action in known theft ‘hotspots’, and to counter the types of criminal M.O. identified in a specific geographic area. They are only able to do this because they have access to a bank of knowledge.

Clearly, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are one of the best sources of freight theft intelligence. TAPA has long-standing incident information sharing agreements with police authorities in the Netherlands and United Kingdom and continues to nurture relationships with LEAs across the rest of EMEA to promote the value of such partnerships. The Association’s message is clear; help major Manufacturers and Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) to gain a better understanding of the risk and the ‘interest’ – as Benjamin Franklin would say – will be fewer incidents and less demands for police intervention.

The latest LEA to recognise this opportunity is the National Transport Security Group of the Swedish Police. Their proactive approach to working with TAPA has helped to reveal a much clearer and bigger picture of transport thefts in Sweden, and provides valuable intelligence to those responsible for supply chain security in major corporations.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2012, TAPA EMEA’s IIS recorded only three cargo crimes in Sweden. The average number for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was 30. Last year, thanks to the growing support of Swedish Police, TAPA’s IIS Annual Report contained intelligence on 196 freight thefts over the entire year.

The crimes reported to IIS by Swedish Police are those involving a cargo value in excess of 50,000 SEK (€5,200). Of the total of 100-180 cargo related crimes recorded by the agency every month, 10-20 usually fall within this value range.

Don’t be misled by the €5,200 figure, however. For criminals operating in Sweden, the supply chain offers rich pickings. TAPA IIS data for 2016 shows a total value of €2,708,540 for the 31.6% of incidents that provided a loss figure. This produced an average loss for cargo thefts with a value of €43,686.

There were also nine major cargo crimes recorded last year. TAPA was asked not to share data on two of these thefts but the remaining seven were:

  • €363,995 – Theft of Clothing & Footwear in Halland County on 9 September
  • €173,348 – Theft of Vehicle and unspecified cargo in Västra Götaland on 23 May
  • €157,996 – Truck Theft in Skåne County on 20 July
  • €129,890 – Theft of a truck and trailer in Västra Götaland on 29 February
  • €106,060 – Theft of Vehicle and miscellaneous cargo in Skåne County on 5 June
  • €105,608 – Theft of shoes from a facility in Halland County on 11 July
  • €103,998 – Over five pallets of Computers/Laptops stolen from a locked trailer on 1 September  

This issue of Vigilant reports the latest big loss in Sweden, a Theft from Trailer crime on 5 March that saw thieves escape with 14 pallets of shoes worth €105,000 after targeting a truck at an unsecured parking place in Malmo. Trucks are clearly the easiest target for thieves in Sweden as they are in the rest of EMEA. In 2016, over 90% of incidents in Sweden recorded by TAPA’s IIS involved either Theft from Vehicle, Theft from Trailer, Theft of Vehicle, Truck Theft or Theft of Trailer.     

One theory used to explain the rise in recorded cargo crimes is that it is a consequence of the country’s much-publicised migrant problem but Swedish Police say there is ‘no evidence’ to support this. According to police sources, it is mainly Swedish nationals who are involved in transport thefts, although they also acknowledge that when a new truck or trailer is stolen, it is often criminal gangs from Eastern Europe which are behind the theft. Police state the gangs have ‘anchorages and a well-developed network to steal trucks and/or trailers and then send them to their home countries’.

Whether criminal attacks are also focused on logistics facilities is more difficult to say. Transport theft in Sweden measured by the police is only linked to truck-related crimes. There is no special group to follow up thefts of cargo from warehouse facilities. In 2016, TAPA recorded only three Theft from Facility crimes.

Overall, police data for all transport thefts in 2016 – including crimes below the 50,000 SEK threshold reported to TAPA EMEA – fell by 20% year-on-year to around 1,400.

According to Swedish Police, the ‘hotspot’ regions for these crimes are:

·        Southern Skåne region, especially Malmö and Helsingborg

·        Kronoberg, Jönköping region

·        Industrial areas around Stockholm

·        The E6 motorway connecting Malmö-Helsingborg-Gothenburg-Svinesund (Norway border)

·        The E4 motorway linking Helsingborg-Jönköping-Stockholm, given the high number of logistics centres located in Jönköping.

Products targeted by cargo thieves are as diverse in Sweden as they are in its neighbouring countries. Police, however, have seen some shift towards an increase in thefts targeting clothing, shoes and cosmetics. Food & Drink is another product category with a high loss rate, alongside electronic products. The National Transport Security Group also highlights more Last Mile thefts of parcels from locked and unlocked vehicles as drivers make local deliveries.   

TAPA’s IIS data for 2016 provides little insight into the location of most crimes as 159 or 81.2% of cases recorded the location as unknown, well ahead of Unsecured Parking, which accounted for just 8.7% of incidents. Speaking to Vigilant, however, Swedish Police indicate a similar pattern to the rest of EMEA, stating: ‘Theft from trailer at unsecured motorway rest areas and theft of/from trailer left unattended in the vicinity of industrial estates are the most popular types of cargo crime in Sweden’.

This isn’t the only thing Sweden has in common with other countries in EMEA; for the police specialists focusing on transport security, the big challenge is to get greater recognition of the problem and, most significantly, the connection between cargo theft and organised crime. Until that time, even the National Transport Security Group admit transport-related crimes will remain ‘a low priority’ within law enforcement.

Indicators suggest the level of cargo crime in 2017 will continue at a similar level to 2016. Theft of trailers and containers are expected to remain a major problem, as are thefts from delivery trucks in Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö, in particular. On a positive note, this is prompting growing cooperation between the police, trade associations and companies to find a collaborative approach to tackling crime. 

Meetings about trends, modus operandi and crime prevention are taking place. There is also an email exchange of intelligence between the public and private sectors, although there is clearly a desire for Manufacturers to take a more active role in this process. Police describe input from ‘the good’s owners’ as rare and inadequate.

The National Transport Security Group in Sweden clearly understands the value of what it describes as ‘good cooperation between industry and law enforcement’ and it is also clear on the importance of working with TAPA EMEA. Asked how TAPA EMEA can help to fight cargo crime in EMEA, the Group said: “Continue to send information about modus operandi, trends, and IIS messages from Europe and other countries. It is important to see the modus operandi in other countries because the criminals can move to Sweden quickly, while Swedish criminals may also carry out ‘copycat’ crimes. The meetings we have with Christer Alldén, TAPA’s representative in Sweden, are also important. We meet at least twice-yearly at the national transportation security council meeting.”

Swedish Police now join their counterparts in the Netherlands and UK as active TAPA EMEA ‘intelligence sharing’ partners. These are very much two-way relationships that benefit the law enforcement agencies just as much as the Association’s members. It is hoped they will also act as a catalyst for more police forces in EMEA to follow their example.

If you have a police contact in EMEA you wish to introduce to TAPA EMEA, please send their details to iis@(*** please remove ***)tapaemea.org