Too many people turn a blind eye to the cost of cargo thefts, even though it’s run by organized crime groups and its proceeds goes toward funding more violent crimes and drug trafficking, says Tom Moore, a former police officer, now president of Canadian Armed Robbery Training Associates.
During a presentation to the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, Moore explained how traditional organized crime groups control the strings of cargo theft rings.
“It’s set up like a normal business,” Moore says, involving inside jobs.
As Today’s Trucking reports:
(Cargo crime) offers the promise of low risk and high reward.
In 2015, an average bank robbery netted $4,330, with a retail robbery averaging $1,589 and convenience store robbery averaging $769. If a thief uses a firearm during such a crime they face a minimum of four years in prison. With a pellet gun they face at least a year behind bars. “With cargo theft you don’t have any of those minimum sentences,” Moore said.
Admittedly, there are more tools than the past. The relatively new Auto Theft and Property Crime Act offers a maximum term of 14 years for trafficking or possessing stolen property. But that’s the law as it’s written. “I guarantee no one is getting 14 years,” Moore said.
To compound matters, police have few resources to stop it.
“In policing we have strategic plans, we have investigations that are prioritized,” Moore told the crowd of fleet managers. “Some things get attention and some things don’t.”
“We have budget restrictions and investigative priorities and every interest group thinks their investigation is most important,” Moore said. The irony is that cargo thefts often provide the seed money for many other criminal activities.
Besides, three in four cargo thefts aren’t even reported, Moore said. “There’s probably very good reasons.” Fleets might worry about how a report might affect insurance costs, or their reputation with other potential customers.
Finding the stolen property doesn’t always solve the problem, either. Moore referred to the theft of 15,000 kg of candy from a rented parking lot in York Region. The $200,000 in goods were recovered, and two people were arrested, but the foodstuffs had to be sent to landfill because there was no way to track the chain of custody. “Even when an arrest is made, even a success can be a failure.”
Fleets are not completely powerless when it comes to battling cargo crime. Guards at access gates can verify the identities of drivers and carriers, while human resources teams can conduct employee background checks. One of Moore’s police sources said almost half his information came from inside employees. “You want to weed these people out before they ever become employees.”
Another key tool has come in the form of a central database, the CTA Cargo Crime Incident Report, established in 2014 by the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Insurance Bureau of Canada. With that, it’s possible to identify what is stolen and where.
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