European Raiders Target Whiskey and Salmon as Cargo Thefts Jump

  • Food, drink and clothing favored by opportunist criminals
  • Internet has made it easier to dispose of range of goods

Criminals are stealing a wider range and higher value of goods from trucks and warehouses across Europe than ever before, with foodstuffs, alcohol and clothing now more common targets than cash and electronics.

Cargo thefts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have jumped almost three-fold in five years, with 85 percent of 2015’s incidents occurring in Britain, 
Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, the leading hubs for distribution and cross-border trade, Transport Asset Protection Association data shows.

Tighter security at logistics centers has prompted thieves to increasingly target vehicles, slashing through trailer curtains at truck stops or even locking themselves inside before emerging mid-journey to toss out goods to accomplices, a method dubbed the “Trojan horse” by crimefighters.

In recent months felons have stolen salmon worth 100,000 euros ($112,000) from a trailer in Norway, 80 cases of whiskey from a vehicle in Grays, near London, and truckloads of nuts worth $10 million in more than 30 incidents, according to Tapa, which was founded to protect shipments of electronic goods.

Among warehouse thefts, Champagne worth 2 million euros was taken last year in Basingstoke, England, after thieves tunneled through a wall. Clothes and shoes are also now more commonly stolen than laptops and computers.

“While they probably have a frown on their faces when they open a trailer with things like nuts or frozen fish, on the black market and the Internet everything can be sold,” said Marcel Saarloos, a director at Tapa, which has its European base in the Netherlands.

The value of cargo stolen in Europe amounted to 11.6 billion euros in 2013, according to a study this year from FreightWatch International, a unit of United Technologies Inc. that provides security services for the logistics industry.

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