Container backlogs lead to other cargo difficulties, particularly theft and drugs

While the focus on cargo in California has been on the potential financial implications of leaving cargo for too long in the ports of Los Angeles or Long beach, it has been observed that a container hanging around for too long at a port is also at greater risk of theft.

The supply chain problems were making stolen shipments an increasingly common problem, reported Yahoo Finance. Cargo that finally makes its way out of backlogged ports on the West Coast is being aggressively targeted by criminals.

On the East Coast, refrigerated trucks used to transport food have been a favourite target of thieves Keith Lewis, Vice President of CargoNet, said that “the old saying is freighted rest is traded risk”, adding that “with the log jam at the port[s] and getting the containers out of there, getting them to stack yards, carrier yards, etc. the freight is sitting”.

More than $5m value of products was lost as a result of supply-chain theft in California during Q3 2021, according to CargoNet’s data.

Because one of the biggest issues is the lack of space to process containers, any containers stored in ad hoc places are likely to be less protected.

In the US, California topped the list of states most targeted by thieves, followed by Texas and Florida. Up to $45m in cargo thefts had been reported in the US from January to September 2021, according to CargoNet data.

In 2020 cargo thefts reached $68m, up from $49m in 2019.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, there have been more than 450 “drug extractors” caught at Rotterdam port this year – a new record and significantly more than the 349 arrests in 2020. Extractors or collectors are a part of the drug trafficking chain. Their job is to sneak into the port, break into containers, and remove the smuggled drugs before the police or customs find them. Often minors, the police can do little if they are caught in anything but the actual act of stealing the drugs. The youngest suspect this year was 14 years old, with the oldest being nearly 50.