California tops electronics theft leaderboard in US

California accounted for more than a third of all electronic cargo thefts in the US over the last couple of years, according to a new report.

The analysis by FreightWatch International covers the period between the third quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2016 reveals that California was well ahead of all other US states, with Florida ranked second at 10 per cent of thefts and Tennessee third with 9 per cent.

California's share - 36 per cent of the total in the period - is attributed to the sheer volume of imported electronics flowing through the state and the number of electronics firms based there. Freightwatch also says that the main drivers for thefts appear to be opportunism as well as major commercial hardware releases.

Unsecured parking areas are still the most likely place for thefts to take place, and in a majority of cases (59 per cent) the criminals steal a full truck load (FTL) of the items.

As in previous reports televisions and displays were the most commonly stolen items, although the average value of the thefts (around $131,000) was considerably lower than the average for the sector as a whole ($509,000).

The most valuable stolen shipments were software, components and peripherals ($1.27m) and cell phones and accessories ($1.07m), likely because a lot of relatively high-cost items can be loaded onto a single truck.

FreightWatch warns however that "high value alone will not be the determining factor in theft risk to cargo, as thieves will adjust to the increased risk and modify their efforts accordingly."

"New threats will take shape in the form of new theft methods and new targeted products," it adds. For example, there have been a rising number of incidents involving the use of GPS jamming equipment as well as thefts from moving trucks.

Overall, FreightWatch reports that there were 166 cargo thefts in the second quarter of this year, with food and drink shipments targeted most at 23 per cent of the total and electronics coming in second at 13 per cent. California accounted for 40 per cent of all theft incidents.

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