Home » How Has COVID-19 Impacted Supply Chain Theft?

How Has COVID-19 Impacted Supply Chain Theft?

Posted by Sean Murphy on Jun 25, 2020

In the first quarter of 2019, there was relatively little change in the number of supply chain thefts compared to 2018. There were 132 in 2018 and 131 in 2019. Fast forward to 2020, a year completely disrupted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, and that number jumps over 50 percent to 197 cargo thefts during the same time.

Reasons for the Increase in Supply Chain Theft

At the onset of the virus, there was a shift in focus to health and safety. Rightfully so. However, in doing so, experts feared that securing cargo was becoming less of a priority.

A recent CargoNet analysis uncovered a surge in the targeting of high-demand goods like gloves, medicine and groceries. That same study noted an increase in fictitious cargo pickup activity. Fictitious pickups involve truck drivers using fake IDs or businesses to steal or divert cargo. By the time the logistics company realizes they aren’t dealing with legitimate truck drivers, it’s too late. The shipment has already been stolen.

So why the increase in activity? According to CargoNet, there are a few issues.

  • Non-violent criminals are being released early to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in prisons
  • Police officers have been told to focus on violent crimes rather than lesser offenses
  • There is less motor carrier regulation enforcement
  • Because many companies have had to lay off or furlough employees, coupled with an increase in employees working from home, there are fewer people on-hand to oversee daily operations, giving thieves more opportunity

Security Best Practices

Any time there is a disruption in the supply chain, it has ripple effects. That makes it crucial for everyone involved to do their part in helping to safeguard cargo. An article from Coyote, a division of UPS, cites several security best practices.


  • Be vigilant when parking and locking trailers
  • Be on alert for unfamiliar vehicles that are following you or any that strike you, a common ploy used by robbers

Procurement and Operations

  • Be on the lookout for rates that seem too good to be true
  • Be cautious of contracts from unfamiliar contacts

Shipping Facilities

  • Secure all trailers with high-security barrier seals and hardened padlocks. Utilize king pin locks for unattached trailers
  • Remove keys from all equipment and put them in a secure location
  • Document license plates, identification numbers and descriptive information for tractors, trailers and containers
  • Verify all information about the driver and the tractor/trailer matches what you have on file
  • Verify new shipping addresses
  • Keep cargo in secure, well-lit areas

Help Deter Supply Chain Theft with Live Video Monitoring

When it comes to proactively reducing and deterring cargo theft, one solution stands out. Live video monitoring works in real time, to catch activity as it happens. Trained security operators monitor live surveillance cameras to watch for suspicious activity. If they see anything, they can act immediately.

In addition to advanced security protection and the ability to better manage and mitigate risk and liability, Stealth’s customized solution offers gate and access control. This cost-effective way to replace security guards provides:

  • Driver verification and ID checks
  • Correct trailer/tractor validation
  • Open load verification with trailer inspection at entry/exit
  • Integration with inventory management systems in real time to track inventory entering and leaving the facility
  • Customizable security service protocols and reporting

Cargo theft seems to be on the rise, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, with so many critical supplies being transported, it’s important to take extra steps to help protect vulnerable cargo.

For more information about a proactive security solution for your distribution and logistics business, contact us.