A brazen hijacking of $300,000 worth of scotch and rum intended for an Indianapolis wholesaler is among a growing wave of cargo thefts across the nation, the Indianapolis Star reports. At least 859 truckloads worth nearly half a billion dollars were stolen in the U.S. last year, up 12 percent from 2008, according to FreightWatch International. “I don’t see many reasons for these thefts to slow down,” said Dan Burges of FreightWatch, a logistics security firm, noting that many have been spurred by the economic desperation brought on by the recession.
The wave of highway robberies is causing headaches for trucking companies, which often have to eat the cost of stolen merchandise through higher insurance rates and are increasingly paying to install sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment on their trucks to help track down stolen loads. In Indiana, trailers filled with baby formula, medicine, frozen chicken, and energy drinks were swiped last year. Nationally, electronics were the most popular target, accounting for 23 percent of reported cargo thefts. “Everybody wants a laptop, cell phone and flat-panel television,” Burges said. Such items are often untraceable and easy to peddle at flea markets, yard sales, online, and to retailers willing to accept counterfeit paperwork.