Australian Institute of Criminology

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The detection and prevention of cargo theft

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 214

Claire Mayhew
ISBN 0 642 24241 0 ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2001


Cargo theft occurs in freight forwarding yards, warehouses and during transportation in trucks, as airfreight and on ships. Worldwide, the direct cost of cargo theft is estimated at about US$30 billion per year, with indirect costs many times higher. For a small business operating on a just in time basis, the loss of freight may threaten viability. Further, the illegal sale of stolen cargo undercuts prices in legitimate businesses. This paper provides an overview of cargo theft, and discusses some target hardening, freight forwarding and inventory control strategies that can be adopted by smaller organisations to reduce the risks.

This project was funded by the Crime Prevention Branch of the Criminal Justice Division, Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department.