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Alert: 2020 Christmas and New Year's Holiday Awareness

Description   The winter holiday shipping season has historically been one of the most dangerous times for cargo theft. This year, both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day occur on a Friday, extending each holiday weekend and leaving more opportunity for shipments to be left unattended or parked in unsecured locations for extended periods of time. In winter holidays between 2015 - 2019, the Sensitech® Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) recorded just under two thefts per day and an average loss value of USD $148,794. These thefts primarily targeted Electronics (22%), which recorded a theft rate 35% more frequent than throughout the rest of the year. The highest average value recorded was within Clothing & Shoes, which had an average loss value over the holiday period of over USD $1.1 million, 382% higher than throughout the year. Additionally, Facility Thefts accounted for 6% of total thefts during the previous five holiday periods, a rate 43% higher than the rest of the year, while Pilferage accounted for 20%, a rise of 10%.

Recommendation  The Sensitech SCIC recommends that logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up-to-date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations. Also, in order to mitigate criminal attempts to exploit cargo at rest, we suggest confirming that a given receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times and planning for secure parking locations in the event a shipment will have to stop for an extended period of time. Covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high-value shipments are highly recommended, as they have proven to be the most effective protocols to both mitigate in-transit theft and facilitate successful recovery of stolen product.

In addition, the following guidelines are collectively endorsed by IMUA, PCSC, Travelers Insurance, SWTSC, SETSC, NETSC, the Cargo Security Alliance, and Sensitech:


  • Steps should be taken to verify the authenticity of all shipment related activity during these periods – particularly any entity which has been engaged to either move or store a shipment. Driver and business verification, prior to releasing any shipment, is paramount.
  • Communication between drivers and shippers needs to be firmly established and regularly maintained during shipments over these periods. That communication should include driver(s) instruction as to what types of behavior are required and what is not permissible.
  • Truck stops, highway rest areas and distribution centers are frequent targets for cargo thieves—not only traditionally but more so over holiday periods. For that reason, any location where cargo would either intentionally (or unintentionally) come to rest—even for brief periods of time - should be as secure as possible. Things to consider when selecting a secure area/lot are: controlled access, adequate lighting, congestion, any type of either personal or video surveillance, how long the conveyance will be left unattended, as well as past intelligence of localized cargo theft activity.
  • If a cargo conveyance must be left unattended for any period of time it should be made as secure as possible. Theft-resistant locking/sealing mechanisms for tractors, trailers and cargo compartments; disabling technology for the vehicle’s power units or trailer movements; parking vehicles and/or cargo compartments in a fashion which make access as difficult as possible – are all things worthy of strong consideration.
  • If any tracking technology, such as GPS monitoring, that is available for deployment should be used to its fullest extent possible. That would include tracking technology on the conveyance’s power unit, its cargo area (if separate), as well as within the cargo itself.


  • Conduct a personal inspection of both the outside and inside of your facilities before securing them. Remove/repair anything that would assist a perpetrator in his/her illicit activity. For example: exterior lighting that doesn’t work, gates/doors/windows left unsecured, keys left in forklifts inside, etc.
  • Prior to securing a facility for unattended periods check to make sure all alarms, CCTV recording equipment, and any sources of auxiliary power are all in good working order. With anything that is battery powered, those batteries should be tested for effectiveness.
  • Treat all premises alarms (no matter the number or closeness in frequency) as if they are all actual penetration attempts. Responses should be made accordingly.
  • Make sure all lists of company individuals responsible for contact, in the event of suspicious activity or emergency, are up to date. All entities that monitor your alarm/access activity need to have access to these up-to-date lists.
  • Encourage local law enforcement agencies to make extra patrols in the areas where your facilities are located – as well as make it as easy as possible for them to "see" your critical access areas.

Notable thefts over Christmas and New Year's holidays 2015-2019

  • 2015, Texas, Facility Theft of Tablets, $300,000
  • 2015, New Jersey, Full Truckload of Food & Drinks, $255,000
  • 2016, California, Full Truckload of Footwear, $4M
  • 2016, Tennessee, Facility Theft of Drones
  • 2017, Wisconsin, Facility Theft of Diapers
  • 2017, Michigan, Full Truckload of Tires, $250,000
  • 2018, Delaware, Facility Theft of Smart Watches, $100,000
  • 2018, Florida, Full Truckload of Alcohol, $507,000
  • 2019, Florida, Full Truckload of Televisions, $173,000
  • 2019, Texas, Full Truckload of Motor Oil, $100,000
  • 2019, Illinois, Full Truckload of Cell Phones, $100,000
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