Cargo theft is a serious and growing problem in the Memphis area and an estimated $100 billion a year drain on the national economy, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It’s also an underreported crime that has drawn fewer resources as terrorism became a higher priority. Memphis is a hot spot because of a concentration of warehouse and distribution businesses, trucking companies, railroads, river port, and the FedEx world hub.
At a seminar yesterday, consultant Lester Ditto said criminals are becoming bolder, better trained, and equipped. Businesses must respond with better training of employees, stronger security, and coordination with law enforcement, said Ditto, president of the Mid-South Cargo Security Council. “I can’t tell you the number of warehouses where the (alarm system) passcodes are 1-2-3-4. You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ditto said. A local FBI agent manages a cargo security task force that has five FBI and sheriff’s officers, down from 15 several years ago. Ditto said thieves have eluded alarm systems by knocking man-sized holes in buildings and used laptops and portable printers to make fake paperwork to fool dock workers. Most thefts are still trailers left unattended.