May 12, 2011 - 8 years ago
By Supply Post
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) used the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police National Pipeline/Convoy Conference in Toronto held yesterday to unveil a groundbreaking study on cargo crime in Canada. CTA commissioned Lansdowne Technologies Inc., to conduct the study which involved months of collaboration between key stakeholders from trucking, law enforcement and the insurance sector. In addition to CTA, the study was sponsored by: Markel Insurance Company of Canada, Marsh Canada Limited, Zurich Insurance, TransCore Link Logistics, the British Columbia Trucking Association, the Saskatchewan Trucking Association, the Alberta Motor Transport Association, the Manitoba Trucking Association, the Ontario Trucking Association and the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.
The purpose of the study was to clearly explain cargo crime in Canada and to promote awareness of the issues and challenges facing Canada in coming to grips with the problem of cargo crime, estimated to be a $5 billion a year problem in this country. Cargo crime covers a number of criminal acts including theft, larceny and robbery. It is also linked to smuggling and national security threats. Too often it is incorrectly perceived as a victimless crime. But the effects reach much further than its direct stakeholders to the Canadian economy as a whole. Cargo that is stolen and sold in illegal markets shifts revenues from legitimate businesses to criminals and depletes tax revenues. What is more disturbing is the recent increased use of violence in perpetrating cargo crime, putting the well-being of truck drivers and other industry employees at risk.
Moreover, the study finds that the involvement of organized crime, which uses the proceeds of cargo crime to fund other illegal activities such as drug smuggling, cannot be understated. Cargo crime requires a network of criminals to both commit the theft and distribute the stolen goods.
The study says there are many challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in dealing with cargo crime. For example, the law, as currently written, does not differentiate cargo theft from general property theft. Furthermore, penalties do not seem to match the seriousness of the crime. Police sources note that someone caught with $10,000 in cocaine will spend time in prison, but someone caught stealing $1-million in plasma TV’s may not even go to jail. These two issues result in a lack of enforcement resources being deployed to combat cargo crime. Cargo crime does not benefit from a sufficiently high profile with federal and provincial governments to compel them to take necessary legislative and policy action. As a result, carriers are less likely to report thefts because of lack of success by law enforcement agencies in solving these perceived low level crimes. Another issue hampering efforts to combat cargo crime is the lack of information sharing and standardized reporting on cargo crime across the country.
Various steps are being taken to address the growing problem of cargo crime in Canada. Trucking companies have advocated for policy changes, heightened their personnel and cyber security awareness and, where possible and within their financial capabilities, taken steps to improve their physical security measures. Law enforcement agencies have created programs to train and raise awareness of front-line police officers and have put in place telephone tip lines to involve the public. Insurance companies are improving their data-capturing capability and are collaborating with other stakeholders to set up local crime task forces. In spite of the steps already taken the study concludes much more needs to be done and highlights a number of specific measures that should be undertaken:
• Government should redefine simple “theft” to include “cargo theft” which has ties to organized crime; ensure that penalties associated with cargo crimes reflect the extent and impact of the problem; and, ensure cargo theft becomes a priority for increased police resource allocation and legislative change.
• All stakeholders need to increase opportunities for stakeholders affected by cargo crime (e.g., enforcement, insurance, shippers and carriers) to exchange information, discuss issues and work together to develop effective crime prevention strategies and standardized protocols. They also need to work together to raise the profile of cargo crime with the Canadian chiefs of police and public policy makers and develop a standardized reporting protocol.
• Insurance companies need to investigate the expanded utilization of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s program for non-attributable information sharing across the trucking community, from which police can distil regional and national trends.
• Law enforcement agencies need to enhance the education and training of enforcement officers on cargo crime.
• Trucking companies need to do more to protect themselves such as personnel security screening programs for new applicants; route risk assessments which enable the carrier to plan out delivery routes that avoid high crime areas; corporate security management systems; and greater participation in the movement against cargo crime and enhanced dialogue with intermodal partners across Canada and the United States.