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Criminal organizations take advantage of the increasing amount and value of goods which are transported as road freight within the EU.
EUROPOL, the European Union law enforcement organization responsible for handling criminal intelligence, is alerting the whole of EU against increased actions by organized crime. In order to minimize cargo theft, it is necessary both law enforcement authorities, like EUROPOL, and industries share information and intelligence.
“The criminals are well organised and operating across borders,” reads the press release by EUROPOL. That is why a close cooperation and joint efforts are necessary “otherwise we will not be able to match criminals who are both innovative and cruel in their actions and behaviour. Road related cargo crime threatens the principle of free movement of goods across Europe and we will do our best to help contain this threat,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.
In 2007 alone, cargo thefts have resulted in some €8.2 billion losses for businesses, with the ‘top’ countries being Romania and, far behind, Hungary and Poland.
Overall numbers are astonishing: 17% of drivers have suffered attacks over the latest 5 years, and 1 out of 3 have been attacked more than once. An increased willingness to employ firearms and violence in the pursuit of their goals has also been showed, with 21% of all attacks in 2007 ending in violence on the drivers.
Cargo thieves have recently concentrated their attention on metals like nickel and copper and even scrap. Easily re-saleable goods like alcohol, computers, name brand clothing, cigarettes and prescription drugs, though, still represent the largest share of stolen property.
As for tricks and tactics, a trend is the creation of fake transport companies who reply to invitations to tender and when they get the order they steal the merchandise. Sometimes the criminals wear police or customs officer uniforms and organize false controls in order to force the driver to stop. Another trick used for the same purpose is to stage an accident. Offenders do also sometimes jump from their own vehicle onto the loaded truck and remove goods from the still driving vehicle, often by simply throwing them off the trailer.
An overview about the problem and recommendations on the way forward can be found it the Cargo Theft Report.