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Container Cargo Theft

A Frustrating But Avoidable Story

Cargo theft from containers is, unfortunately, a tale we often hear. It’s also a tale as old as container shipping itself.

BSI and TT Club reported that theft of cargo in transit accounted for 71% of all modalities in 2020. Although this was actually down from 87% in 2019, losses from warehouses and other storage facilities also increased from 10% to 25% during the same period – an eyewatering but understandable uptick considering the sheer number of containers stuck in locations across the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, a much talked about issue for shippers has been the rise of ‘cyber piracy,’ with tech-savvy thieves and other criminals hacking into the automated and connected systems relied upon in the supply chain, allowing them to wreak havoc. Operations are halted entirely or completely disrupted by malware that manipulates information related to things like manifests, rates, and delivery dates. Organized criminals use this to coordinate and obfuscate their own theft operations and exploit vulnerable containers as vessels for moving illicit cargo.

The chaos in global shipping brought about by COVID-19 has only exacerbated issues of theft from vulnerable containers, benefitting sophisticated cybercriminals and low-fi marauders alike. NBCLA, for example, recently reported large scale container compromise on railroad near downtown Los Angeles, with raiders breaking into both static and even slow-moving containers on the tracks. The report came while 77 container ships were anchored offshore with a massive backlog of containers amassing at and around the ports of LA and Long Beach – significantly increasing the opportunity for compromise. The problem has apparently persisted throughout November, along with the container situation at the golden coast ports hitting new records.

But whether it’s criminals taking advantage of vulnerable technology, a suitable global crisis, or just a poorly secured location in normal times, the common thread in these tales of illegal activity is the same – containers themselves.

The intermodal shipping container has barely changed since its inception in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the rear cargo doors with their easily defeated hinges, locking bars, and hasps are a great friend to thieves on every continent. Whether a container is being stored or in transit, it’s often low-hanging fruit.

There’s no magic bullet to stop the compromise of standard containers. Shippers can detect and combat theft with different locking mechanisms, tracking systems, and environmental sensors, but ultimately a door is a door.

This was the raison d’etre for the CakeBoxx container – as visionary Garry Whyte describes it here, nobody ever steals through the front end of the container; it’s always through the container doors.

At CakeBoxx we’ve devoted the past decade to designing and building the most secure and practical containers for our customers. Our innovation and effectiveness have even won our doorless two-piece models recognition as a Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology.

So, if you’re looking for a way to not only deter criminals but to make container theft an absolute non-starter, why not give us a call?