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Swedish post service PostNord has helped put cargo thieves behind bars with a sting operation to prevent theft from moving vehicles.
This high-risk crime has become increasingly prevalent on Europe’s roads, with gangs stealing from trucks travelling at up to 80 kph.
Some €1m-worth of goods was stolen this way this summer: 1,000 mobiles phones, worth €590,000, taken from a truck travelling on the A73 in the Netherlands in July; weeks later, a repeat crime, in the UK, after nthieves followed a truck from a logistics centre.
PostNord decided enough was enough, after similar occurrences. Head of security and claims Alexis Larsson worked out a pattern and identified a truck with a load that seemed likely to be targeted.
Together with the police, in September the company installed hidden surveillance cameras on a PostNord truck – and removed the valuable goods. With the police in contact with the driver and unmarked cars nearby, the truck set off.
“Suddenly, I saw on the film how the back doors of the truck were opened and two men jumped in from the hood of a car travelling right behind the truck at high speed and with no lights on,” Mr Larsson, told theft prevention organisation TAPA EMEA.
“They looked through the cargo without finding what they were looking for and were about to leave the vehicle. That was when I told the driver to brake.”
As the truck slowed down, the following vehicle had to drop back, so the thieves couldn’t get out of the truck. When eventually they were able to, they were met not by their getaway vehicle, but by police.
While most thefts occur when vehicles have stopped, Swedish police reported four successful thefts, which mainly targeted phones, computers and laptops, many of which were consequently sold in Romania.
“Criminals are willing to go very far, and to take great risks, to get their hands on high-value goods,” said Mr Larsson. “The transport industry isn’t really built to battle these kinds of attacks, but with the right attention and ambition you can succeed in arresting the most daring criminals.
“I understand that it would be expensive to secure all transports against all types of incidents. As long as there are humans driving trucks there will always be the risk of theft in collaboration with criminals, as well as the risk that the driver may be robbed.
“There is an ever-ongoing process to assess that the right security measures are taken and followed by the organisation. There will always be weaker spots in the supply chain as many routines depend on employees following manual routines. I would say that the weakest spot in Sweden is the lack of secure parking.
“It is very difficult to be one step ahead, over the entire production line, across the entire country. I believe we have to work hard in making sure we have a reasonable secure process and that security is a natural part of every employee’s working day.
“To battle the most professional criminals, you must have a close cooperation with competitors and law enforcement, and maybe even pinpoint the worst criminal groups.”
PostNord is now considering installing cameras in some vans, he added.
TAPA EMEA said it was pleased that PostNord shared its results. Chairman Thorsten Neumann, said: “The film footage and intelligence shared by PostNord and its highly effective cooperation with Swedish police is of tremendous value to the entire supply chain security stakeholder community.
“Their actions send a severe warning to criminals that however extreme attacks become on supply chains, industry will fight back – and the perpetrators of these crimes will ultimately be caught and prosecuted. This particular investigation will not only help to prevent future theft from moving vehicle attacks, the high profile nature of this case has helped to raise the whole issue of cargo crime to a broad group of stakeholders, and for that we are extremely grateful.
“Sharing incident intelligence is our best chance of making our members’ supply chains secure. I hope other companies will follow the example that has been set on this occasion.”
You can watch the video here.
And to find out more about TAPA, there’s a good video here.