Pharma cargo theft declines in USA

rear view truckThere were 14 pharmaceutical cargo thefts in the first half of 2011 in the USA, just over half the number in the same period of 2010, according to security specialist Freightwatch International.

In its latest biannual report, Freightwatch notes that cargo thefts as a whole fell nearly 7 per cent to 433 incidents. Pharmaceutical thefts fell from 25 this time last year, although there are often fluctuations in incident numbers in this sector, says the report.

The pharmaceutical industry has also become more attuned to supply chain security issues thanks to organisations such as the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Consortium, which issue alerts and advisories to warn when cargo thieves may be operating in an area.

The average loss value per pharmaceutical shipment also fell significantly from over $5m in first-half 2010 to $541,000. Last year's figure is however skewed by the $76m burglary of Eli Lilly's warehouse in Enfield, Connecticut, and without this outlier the average loss value would actually have increased from $395,000 in 2010.

"The number of thefts valued at $1m or more continues to decline rapidly in this sector," says the Freightwatch report. There were recorded five such incidents in the first half of 2008, another five in first-half 2009, two in the same period of 2010 and just one to date in 2011.

The report identifies a number of general trends across all industries, notably a rise in multi-trailer thefts, a sharp increase in food & beverage thefts as a percentage of the total, and an increase in cases in which criminals set up bogus companies to pick up shipments.

Thankfully, violence continues to be relatively rare in US cargo thefts, occurring in just three incidents to date in 2011.

Latin American thefts also down

Freightwatch also published a report on cargo theft trends in Latin America in the second quarter of 2011, with a 2 per cent decrease year-on-year but worryingly high increases in certain hot spots, notably Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Pharmaceutical shipments accounted for 6 per cent of the total, with the most targeted goods cigarettes, computers, electro-domestic products, combustibles, televisions, beer, copper, fertilizer, coffee and the mineral cassiterite, a leading source of tin which is in acutely short supply around the world.

There has been a significant increase in warehouse burglaries, unattended trailer thefts and thefts of trucks waiting to be unloaded, says the report.

In contrast to the US, cargo thefts in Latin America are characterised by violence. In second-quarter 2011, 80 per cent of the drivers were kidnapped during the theft, while the remaining 20 per cent were either left on the roadside or killed.

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