How to prevent cargo theft in the logistics and transportation sectors

by GardaWorld

In the dynamic world of logistics and transportation, the security of goods and their movement is a major concern that requires special attention. Recent data from a 2023 CargoNet report reveals an alarming increase of 59 per cent in cargo thefts in Canada and the United States last year. The total value of losses amounted to $31,165,442 across 692 reported theft incidents, with warehouses and distribution centres being the most targeted locations, followed by truck stops. These figures highlight the urgent need to strengthen preventive measures against this problem.

In this article, GardaWorld’s Consulting and Investigations experts explore the challenges posed by cargo theft, present effective preventive solutions, and illustrate these points through a real case study.

Challenges related to cargo theft

Cargo theft poses a serious threat to logistics and transportation companies, resulting in colossal financial losses and disruptions in supply chains. Common issues include theft of high-value goods, diversion during transportation, and vulnerabilities in storage facilities. GardaWorld’s experts emphasize that these incidents not only cause financial losses but also tarnish the reputation of companies and erode customer trust.

According to CargoNet’s report, theft in 2023 primarily targeted loaded conveyances such as full trailers and encompassed various other categories, including identity theft complaints, hostage loads, late shipment complaints, and other criminal intelligence records. In Canada, the most sought-after stolen goods were food and beverages, followed by household products and metals. Ontario accounted for 83 per cent of all cargo theft incidents in the country, with the Toronto area emerging as a hotspot. The spread of offences westward indicates a trend among perpetrators to evade regional crackdowns.

In order to counter the rise in cargo crime, logistics and transportation centres must strengthen their preventive measures.

Effective preventive solutions

Security audits play a crucial role in identifying vulnerabilities and threats in cargo theft. By conducting security audits regularly, companies can assess security plans and procedures, physical security devices, employee training protocols, as well as technological systems such as GPS tracking and surveillance cameras. This enables them to make informed decisions and implement new devices to address the risks and threats they face, thereby limiting security gaps. “Taking these preventive measures allows logistics companies to mitigate the risk of theft and protect their assets and, of course, their customers,” emphasize GardaWorld’s experts.

National Cargo Crime Unit

According to conservative estimates, the cost of cargo crime in Canada amounts to over $5 billion. To combat this growing problem, GardaWorld has a specialized unit dedicated to recovering stolen cargo and equipment, consisting solely of seasoned investigators. This team assists logistics and transportation companies that fall victim to cargo thefts in solving these crimes.

Action against cargo theft – case study

GardaWorld’s National Cargo Crime Unit recently handled two significant theft cases, each involving loaded transport trailers valued at around $500,000. In response to the client’s needs, our Consulting and Investigations team conducted thorough security audits at the client’s carriers’ facilities across the country. These audits identified various deficiencies, including shortcomings in physical security measures, security procedures, and control of loaded trailers. As a result of our investigations, it became clear that the security measures and procedures implemented by the client’s contracted carriers were inadequate. This discovery prompted the client to initiate discussions and implement stricter requirements for their carriers, with the aim of enhancing security and reducing the risk of thefts occurring at their facilities.

GardaWorld’s Cargo Crime Unit success

A new cargo theft incident recently demonstrated the effectiveness of a swift response and collaboration in resolving such investigations. On Sunday, April 29, authorities received a call alerting them to the theft, and GardaWorld’s Consulting and Investigation Services was tasked with conducting the investigation. The quick response and seamless coordination of GardaWorld’s Cargo Crime Unit led to the recovery of a stolen trailer loaded with copper worth $300,000 in a remarkably short period, just 36 hours after the initial report. This example underscores the importance of initiating quick engagement and having dedicated resources and partnerships in place to effectively combat cargo theft.


As the threat of cargo theft persists in the logistics and transportation sectors, proactive measures are essential to mitigate risks and protect valuable assets. By regularly conducting security audits, implementing robust preventive solutions, and fostering collaborative partnerships, companies can strengthen their defences against theft and preserve the integrity of supply chains. Through collective vigilance and swift action, the industry can work towards a safer and more secure future.

To learn more about GardaWorld’s Cargo Crime Unit, click here.