Along for the ride

Most of us love a bicycle ride. Out in the fresh air, often with family or friends or participating in an extreme sport or ‘going the distance’ and re-enacting our own stage of the Tour de France. But, if you love the thought of getting out of two wheels, you’re not alone. Organised Crime Groups and other small-time criminals are in the same lane and losses from bicycle supply chains are mounting across the EMEA region… 

Getting cargo crime intelligence out of companies is one of the biggest challenges for the TAPA EMEA Intelligence System TIS), but when the largest Czech bicycle producer, BIKE FUN International (BFI) suffered its first-ever cargo theft in January, it took the bold and inspirational decision to issue a press statement to warn other manufacturers of the threat to their supply chains. 

The company stated: ‘Organised crime seems to have found a new business commodity.’ This, of course, is not the case. Criminals have been stealing bicycles and bike parts from supply chains for years, and the rate of thefts seems to be increasing as more people get ‘on their bikes’ either for sport, recreation or simply to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’. 

Like so many companies, BFI was awakened to the threat of cargo crime only after becoming a victim of what has turned out to be a very significant loss. As it stated: ‘We really haven’t seen this situation before.” 

The data – or warning signs – however, is out there, if you know where to look and have access to insightful market intelligence. TAPA EMEA members interested in finding out about the level of criminal interest in bikes can do so in a matter of seconds by selecting ‘bicycles’ as their product type when searching the TIS database. 

To illustrate how TIS can be so valuable to manufacturers and shippers, and their logistics service providers, working in specific product sectors, Vigilant went down the TIS bicycle track … and found some revealing results. 

In the last 30 months in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region, TIS has captured intelligence on 115 thefts of bicycles and bike components involving losses in excess of €2 million – based on just the 25% of these which shared a loss value with the Association.

Eight of these incidents were registered as major losses targeting goods valued at €100,000 or more. They produced an average loss for these crimes alone reaching close to €200,000. A quick data filter on TIS shows exactly when, where, and how most of these thefts took place…

300,000

On 20 August 2021, 200 e-bikes were stolen from a container in Wijchen in the Dutch province of Gelderland.  

€295,797

Thieves targeted a truck in a secured parking location in Germany and stole bike parts on 9 February 2022.

€250,000

The growing popularity of electric bikes makes them an especially attractive target for cargo thieves. In this incident, another 50 e-bikes were stolen from an Origin Facility in Heidelberg in the German state of Baden-Württemburg on 14 October 2021. 

€200,000

On 11 June 2020, in Gilze, North Brabant, in the Netherlands, an offender who claimed to be from a freight forwarding company, and who used false identification documents, was able to steal a shipment of bicycles from a Services 3rdParty Facility. 

 €138,120

An Origin Facility in Moneymore, Northern Ireland, w2as the scene of this loss of 13 high value bicycles and bicycle frames on 6 March 2022.

€124,000 

In the central German city of Halle on 9 December 2020, thieves stole 59 e-bikes from a truck parked overnight in an unclassified parking location. While the driver slept in the vehicle’s cab, the tarpaulin side of the truck was opened, allowing the offenders to access the bicycles, which were stacked in boxes. The driver only noticed the loss when he inspected his vehicle the following morning. 

€116,128 

TAPA EMEA records incidents of thieves cutting holes in the curtain sides of trucks on a daily basis, but cutting holes in facility walls is a far less frequent criminal M.O. It tends to only be seen when the thieves are certain the goods being stored inside a facility are worth the high level of associated risk. This was clearly their thought process for this crime, which resulted in the thefts of 150 e-scooters from an Origin Facility in Loanhead in Midlothian, Scotland, on 11 June 2021.

Other bicycle-related thefts Vigilant is authorised to report have included:  

  • 84,000 – 115 bicycles stolen after thieves cut the tarpaulin curtain of a truck parked in an unclassified parking location in Sandersdorf-Brehna, Germany, on 24 February 2021.
  • €60,350 – Another shipment of e-bikes was stolen from a vehicle which had stopped in an unsecured parking location alongside a highway, this time on 21 January 2021 in Hensies in Belgium’s Hainaut province. 
  • €50,000 – On 12 May 2021, 25 high value carbon bike frames were stolen from an Origin Facility in Borgoricco in Veneto, Italy.
  • €50,000 – On 2 February 2021, five offenders stole 20 high value bicycles from a facility in Legnano in the province of Milan, Italy. According to the TIS intelligence report, they broke down a door to the facility and then used a van to break through the security shutters. Once inside, the offenders took only two minutes to steal the bicycles, including high-end mountain, road and e-bikes. The incident was captured on security cameras.

Another crime with a suspected high value was the theft of 82 bikes from a truck which had stopped at a motorway service station on the A50 in Heteren in the Dutch province of Gelderland.

However, not all incidents involve such high values. In Raeren in east Belgium on 19 June 2020, e-bikes worth €30,000 disappeared within a few minutes after a driver stopped at a petrol station. The following July, in Nordhausen, Germany, 16 bicycles valued at €8,000 were stolen from a trailer in a parking lot.

BFI’s experience clearly shows that falling victim to cargo thieves is a serious business for companies in the bicycle industry. Some media reports valued this one loss of products to be worth €10 million. Whatever the actual loss figure was, it’s hard not to be impressed by the company’s proactive and positive response, which sends a strong message to companies in all sectors about the importance of sharing incident intelligence.

How this particular cargo crime unfolded in best described by BFI in the news section of the company’s website. The heist, they confirm, took place at a motorway rest area in Germany during a truck diver’s rest break. The thieves used a sleeping gas to incapacitate the driver while they stole’ important parts for the production of 10,000 bicycles’.      

BFI said the crime was carried out by a well-organised group who, by all indications, followed the truck from the time it was loaded, and waited for the driver to stop for a rest break. After stealing the bike parts, they set off a fire extinguisher in the truck’s cargo hold to destroy any traces of evidence. 

At an already difficult time for manufacturing, when the supply of individual components is stagnating, BFI said the loss represents another significant business complication. Even though the company was able to replace some components from stock or from its next production, it said ‘the impact on future production is significant.’ 

“The situation for bicycle producers worldwide is really difficult. On the one side we are dealing with huge demand, but on the other side there is an even bigger shortage of components, caused by many factors. From the consignment loaded mostly with expensive e-bike and bike parts, only nine boxes of low-end components were left in the truck. This will delay production of some models by almost a year, as there is no alternative on the market for many of the parts from this shipment. We are a strong and stable company, so this is just another obstacle out of many we are facing in the last years, but would this happen to smaller manufacturers, it would be liquidating for them,” stated BFI’s supply chain director, Petr Krkoska.

“We really haven’t seen this situation before. We hope that due to the shortage of parts, these cases will not be repeated, because despite all the measures we have set up, no insurance cover can compensate us for the loss and, especially, the reputation for late delivery,” he added. “We decided to communicate this matter to warn other producers, because it could happen to them also,” he said. 

During the pandemic, the interest in bicycles increased rapidly. However, delivery times for new bicycles to end customers have been delayed in some cases by up to two years, due to component shortages. 

For manufacturers in the industry, this makes understanding the potential criminal risks to their supply chains of unprecedented importance. Using the TAPA EMEA Intelligence System as a source of product-related loss intelligence should be a vital component in their security programmes.  

CRIME STATS
Recorded thefts of bicycles or bike parts from supply chains in EMEA

Period: Last 30 months 

115

Cargo thefts in 30 months

€. 2.022.362

Loss for 29 incidents with a value 

€. 193.505

Average loss for major cargo crimes

€. 69.736

Average loss of all incidents with a value 

10 countries

In EMEA recorded bicycle thefts from supply chains 

  1. Germany – 64 incidents
  2. Netherlands – 25
  3. United Kingdom – 13
  4. Italy – 4
  5. Belgium -3 
  6. Spain – 2
  7. Denmark -1
  8. Ireland – 1 
  9. Norway – 1
  10. South Africa -1

Types of incidents:  

  • Theft – 45 (39.1%) 
  • Theft from Vehicle – 24 (20.9%)
  • Theft from Trailer – 23 (19.6%)
  • Theft from Facility – 11 (9.6%)
  • Theft of Trailer – 5 (4.3%)
  • Theft from Container – 4 (3.4%)
  • Theft of Container – 1 (0.9%)
  • Theft of Vehicle – 1 (0.9%)
  • Fraud – 1 (0.9%)

Types of m.o: 

  • Intrusion – 59 (51.3%)
  • Unknown – 54 (46.9%)
  • Deceptive Pick up – 1 (0.9%)
  • Internal – 1 (0.9%)

Types of location:  

  • Unclassified Parking – 77 (67%)
  • Unknown – 19 (16.6%)
  • Services 3rd Party Facility – 10 (8.6%)
  • Origin Facility – 4 (3.4%)
  • Destination Facility – 2 (1.7%)
  • En Route – 1 (0.9%)
  • Road Transportation Facility – 1 (0.9%)
  • Secured Parking – 1 (0.9%
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride
Along for the ride