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Cargo Thefts in Asia Increased by 312 percent—TAPA

The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) has released its 2012 Asia Cargo Theft Report, which indicated 222 recorded cargo theft incidents all over Asia last year.

Out of the 176 cargo thefts with recorded incident types, 64 (36 percent) were facility burglaries and eight (5 percent) were container or full-truckload thefts.

Recorded as well were 18 cases of thefts by deception and 50 incidents of theft from vehicle.

The number of hijackings slightly decreased in 2012 with 28 incidents as compared to 34 incidents the year before.

With the increase in the number of reported incidents last year, modus operandi committed by thieves in Asia similarly increased.

The report also recorded a significant increase in pilferage and intrusion. Intrusion rose from 18 incidents in 2011 to 68 in 2012. Pilferage, meanwhile, had 10 incidents in 2011 and 27 in 2012.

The use of violence or threat of violence in cargo crime dropped from 33 incidents in 2011 to 31 incidents in 2012. All the same, it “remained a significant statistical proportion of cargo thefts in Asia,” accounting for 20 percent of the total incidents recorded in 2012.

Report likewise showed an average of 18.5 cargo thefts in a month, representing large-scale theft incidents in the supply chain in Asia. The countries and region with the highest cargo theft incidents last year are India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China—all of which constituted 80 percent of the total recorded incidents in Asia. India recorded 57 cargo thefts (26 percent). Garnering the largest increase was Vietnam, swelling to 46 in 2012 from zero recorded incidents in 2011. Hong Kong had 44 reported incidents in 2012 as opposed to two reported incidents in 2011. Both having zero incidents in 2011, Thailand got five reported incidents and Indonesia had 10 the following year. The rate in these countries was said to be significantly higher in 2012 than the year before because of the “improvements in the rates of reporting.”

The latest findings represented the highest number of theft incident reports on the record and said to be 312 percent higher as compared to 2011. In fact, TAPA Asia Chairman Jason Teo admitted in a statement that, “Cargo theft continues to be a growing issue in Asia.” But while the number of cargo theft reports increases, he added that “information about the preferred methodologies, areas of operation and targets becomes more accurate allowing the supply industry to take proactive measures against cargo theft.”

Trends in View

The TAPA report said there is limited identification of trends in cargo theft because of the changes in the incident recording in Asia from 2010. But one obvious trend last year was said to be the “sharp drop in the percentage of reported thefts of items in the Components (CPU, Memory, Components) product type.” From 27 percent in 2007, recorded thefts in this sector decreased to 14 percent in 2012.

Enumerated as the most commonly targeted product types were Food and Beverage at 22 percent for the second year in a row; Components at 14 percent; and Mobile Phones at 10 percent.

Months with the highest number of theft incidents recorded last year were September with 28 incidents, August with 21, and May with 17. The months of April, June, and November had the slowest increase in cargo theft incidents. December had a slight drop, too. Then again, the report clarified that this trend could also be because of the fluctuations in reporting rates.

Among the days of the week, overall cargo theft in Asia is said to have an increased amount of activity on Mondays. So are with facility burglaries, which appeared that the highest number of reported burglaries is on Mondays while lowest is seen on Wednesdays and Thursdays. But there’s a theory for this: Thefts happen on weekends when many facilities are closed, so the crimes are discovered only on Mondays.

Said to be most often targeted by cargo thieves in 2012 were cargo storage facilities such as warehouses and logistics yards, with 38 percent recorded incidents. Proven to be notorious among thieves is theft from vehicle with about 22 percent reported incidents.

Unsecured parking areas became the location for 20 percent of the overall cargo theft incidents reported. Vehicles in-transit were targets of 31 percent of the reported incidents, either by pilferage M.O. or hijacking.

Secured lots became targets, too. From 32 percent of known locations in 2011, it swelled to 49 percent in 2012. A secured lot is called one when a theft report specifies that the location of incident was a secured cargo storage facility or parking lot, the report explained.

Cited as an example of cargo theft in the report was the “extreme high-value theft” that transpired at a factory in Bukit Mertajam, Malaysia, involving $3.5 million in microchips. Eight thieves were armed with samurai swords when they held up a supervisor and six guards going in through a back entrance. They tied up the employees, loaded their getaway truck with three pallets of microchips, and flee the premises. The truck was eventually found by the police. However, they failed to recover the missing products. They since detained seven male suspects connected to the case.

The annual, analytical review of cargo theft trends uses data collection as well as polling of industry and law enforcement personnel as basis. It also intends to give industry personnel “an understanding of the risk faced by logistics operations at both the country and regional level.”

TAPA is composed of “security professionals and related business partners from high technology and high value companies” whose purpose is to address “the emerging security threats that are common to the high value industry supply chain.”