The fall in reported cargo thefts in March over the same month of last year was almost certainly down to a blip in crime reporting as opposed to a sign that attacks on supply chains are showing signs of a decline. The latest data recorded by TAPA EMEA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) for April 2017 shows a 43.4% growth year-on-year with 198 newly-recorded crimes.

For the first four months of 2017, Vigilant’s IIS updates have reported a total of 738 freight theft incidents, up 36.6% on the same period of 2016.

The only downward trend last month compared to April 2016 was in the average loss of incidents reporting a value. It was €38,070, based on the 61.6% of crimes stating a value last month, compared to €170,835 a year ago.

The biggest single loss in April took place in the county of Kronoberg in Sweden on 20 April. Thieves cut through a padlocked gate at an Origin Facility and stole two brand new trucks valued at €315,282. As they departed the site they replaced the broken padlock with a new lock to conceal the break-in.

This was one of six major cargo crimes last month with a loss value in excess of €100,000. The five other thefts involved:


A Deceptive Pick-up from an Original Facility in Coleshill, West Midlands in the UK, on 9 April that resulted in the loss of 3,236 cases of alcohol products. The driver of the tractor unit who collected the loaded trailer used the correct load and reference information during the pick-up. The theft only came to light when the genuine vehicle turned up to collect the load. It has since been confirmed that the offenders’ vehicle was fitted with false number plates.   


Clothing & Footwear was stolen in this Theft from Vehicle crime at Toddington motorway services on the M1 in Bedfordshire, UK, on 11 April. Thieves cut the curtain side of the parked and attended vehicle. 


On 20 April, Clothing & Footwear products were targeted again. This incident, recorded in the Brussels area of Belgium, occurred while the cargo was en route.  


A Theft from Trailer incident involving the loss of televisions on 21 April. Offenders cut the curtain side of a truck that had stopped at an unsecured parking location on an industrial estate in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, in the UK.  


Yet another incident at a UK motorway services area. This loss of Food & Drink products took place in Northamptonshire on 3 April and, again, saw thieves cutting the curtain side of a parked and attended semi-trailer.

Overall, more than 50 of the cargo thefts reported to TAPA’s IIS in April 2017 occurred at UK motorway service areas. This is a subject TAPA will investigate in more detail in the next issue of Vigilant.


April data also included another 24 cargo crimes with a loss value of between € 50,000 and €100,000. The 10 biggest thefts in this loss range all took place in the UK and were: 

  • €71,340 – Tyres stolen from a parked and attended vehicle at Membury Services on the M4 in Berkshire on 10 April 
  • €70,815 - Another Theft from Vehicle at a UK motorway services. This incident on 20 April occurred at Watford Gap Services on the M1 in Northamptonshire and resulted in the loss of Computers/Laptops
  • €69,849 – Unspecified cargo stolen from a truck at an unsecured parking location in Leicestershire on 24 April
  • €65,114 – Washing machines were taken from a vehicle in an unsecured parking place in Raunds, Northamptonshire, on 25 April. The offenders cut the seal and locks to the rear doors of the truck
  • €64,765 – Trouser presses and clothing were stolen after thieves cut the curtain side of a truck in an unsecured parking location in Purfleet, Essex, on 2 April
  • €64,206 – On 4 April, another incident at Watford gap Services involved the loss of pressure washers from a parked truck
  • €59,567 – This Theft from Trailer crime on 6 April also took place at Watford Gap Services after thieves cut the rear door locks and seal of a trailer carrying Clothing & Footwear
  • €59,567 – Unspecified cargo was stolen in this incident on 19 April after an axle grinder was used to cut through the locks of a truck at an unsecured parking location in Castle Donnington, Leicestershire
  • €59,450 – In Northamptonshire, more unspecified cargo was taken in this crime on 3 April. Thieves cut the curtain side of a trailer at an unsecured parking location 
  • €59,194 – Another crime in Raunds, Northamptonshire, this incident took place on 25 April and targeted another truck in an unsecured parking location. The cargo stolen was unspecified.

Overall, 22 of the 24 thefts with a recorded loss value of between €50,000 and €100,000 took place in the UK. The other two crimes were reported in Skåne County, Sweden. Notable statistics for these incidents were:

·        91.6% involved Theft from Vehicle crimes

·        83.3% occurred at unsecured parking locations

·        58.3% took place in East Midlands in the UK

Products stolen in these incidents were:

·        Furniture/Household Appliances – 4 incidents

·        Clothing & Footwear – 3

·        Food & Drink – 2

·        Tyres – 2

·        Computers/Laptops – 1 

·        Cosmetics & Hygiene – 1

·        Toys & Games – 1

In nine of the 24 incidents the products stolen were unspecified and one crime stated the goods stolen – foot spas – as miscellaneous. 

Data recorded by TAPA’s IIS in April involved cargo crimes in 12 countries in the EMEA region. This included an incident in one country that rarely features in the IIS database, Botswana. On 13 April, a refrigerated truck carrying a cargo of margarine was hijacked while en route. The vehicle was found empty a day later in Isando in the notorious Gauteng province in neighbouring South Africa.

90.5% of recorded cargo thefts in just three countries 

Until reliable sources of cargo crime incident data can be found across the EMEA region, it is likely that the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Sweden will continue to head the list of countries with the highest rates of recorded freight thefts. This is thanks to the willingness of law enforcement agencies in these three countries to share incident intelligence with TAPA.

In April, these three countries accounted for 179 or 90.5% of all reported crimes:

·        United Kingdom – 117 or 59.1% of the April total

·        Netherlands – 45 or 22.8%

·        Sweden – 17 or 8.6%

The only other countries recording more than a single incident were Germany with 7 and Belgium and South Africa, which both reported three cargo crimes.

Outside of the 92 or 46.5% of incidents where the goods stolen were not specified, Food & Drink headed the list of 14 TAPA IIS product categories recording losses during the month. It suffered 25 thefts, 12.6% of the total. Only two other product categories recorded 10 or more losses last month:

  • Clothing & Footwear – 14 or 7.1%
  • Furniture/Household Appliances – 11 or 5.6%

A familiar pattern in April 

Data for the types of incident, location and M.O. followed the usual pattern:

  • Theft from Vehicle was by far the main type of incident with 158 crimes, 79.8% of the April total
  • Unsecured Parking was the location recorded in 154 or 77.8% of crimes
  • Intrusion was the most used modus operandi, seen in 148 incidents, 74.8% of all theft reports last month