Supply chain faces complex crime threat as criminals organise operations

TT Club is warning the pandemic has seen cargo thieves targeting food and drink rather than electronics as demand makes the stolen goods easier to move on.

The transport mutual insurer has increased its efforts to deliver more of its long-established guidance to transport operators on managing their protection against theft and fraud.

In its latest podcast it has warned that the congestion in the supply chain and the demand for more food and drink products has changed the risks that cargo owners and their insurers face. It comes in the face of criminals ramping up the way they operate as they become more sophisticated.

Mike Yarwood, TT’s Managing Director, Loss Prevention said: “The current freight transport environment features higher than normal volumes of cargo movement across all modes on land, sea and in air, as well as significant disruption to well-established routings and methods of transport. Added to these facets are increased inventories of certain goods at many locations and more sub-contracting activity, potentially employing less reliable entities. All these factors allow well-organised criminal organisations to exploit security weaknesses along the supply chain.”

David Thompson of Signum Services, the in-house investigative arm of TT’s managers, Thomas Miller & Co.  said the threats were increasing and that that criminals were becoming mor sophisticated in their actions.

Thompson, who spent 30 years as a Detective with London’s Metropolitan Police before joining Signum said: “Organised crime has never been so organised. Much cargo crime is perpetrated by well-oiled business-like machines that target goods that are in market demand and easily converted into cash. They are well-informed and adapt quickly to new transport trends, spotting opportunities with intelligence and resource.”

Among identified trends apparent during the recent lockdowns has been a move away from the theft of higher value, more easily traced goods, such as electronics and domestic appliances, to food and drink commodities that have had a ready market, said the TT Club. “Thieves have also noted and exploited the congestion in the supply chain that has increased the use of temporary warehousing and storage sites that are not always as secure as established premises.”

“Keeping ahead of, or more often, up with the variable modus operandi that criminal organisations employ, and combating the threats to cargo assets they enable, are major tasks and are the challenges that TT Club’s loss prevention resources are posed to face through increased awareness and guidance on protective action,” it added.