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A Volatile Global Supply Chain Faced with Increasing Cargo Theft

While the health and safety of the public is a rightful top concern during the global pandemic, the spread of COVID-19 isn’t the only issue we are facing as a result of the widespread outbreak. From electronics to raw materials and more, the effects of the coronavirus have caused volatile disruptions in the supply chains of almost every industry. This has resulted in shortages, delays, and congestion that has made access to both every day and trending products much more challenging. Cargo thieves in particular are paying diligent attention to shortages and aren’t afraid to take advantage of them. 2020 saw a dramatic increase in cargo theft, as these criminals are aggressively targeting the items they can sell for a quick turnaround on the secondary market. 

In a time of extraordinary chaos in global shipping, it is important to understand the threat cargo theft poses to an already amok supply chain and how shippers can take a heightened approach to the protection of their freight. 

But first, let’s start by diving into how we got here in the first place. Namely, the why behind these empty shelves.  

In the pre-pandemic world, the majority of manufacturers followed a popular practice called “Just In Time” manufacturing in which parts are delivered to factories just as they were needed in order to prevent stockpiling. From pharmaceuticals to fashion, companies across all industries have adopted Just In Time because in theory, this protects profits and streamlines operations by allowing for the easy adaptability to changes in market demands. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 threw a global-impact-sized wrench in this plan. Labor shortages due to coronavirus cases made it near impossible for manufacturers to fulfill the normal amount of goods that they were once able to make in the pre-pandemic world – goods that other organizations were dependent on to build their own products. When companies went to order these supplies vital to their own production (that they hadn’t stockpiled on hand), they were told that the materials were in shortage, and it could take months to send them their way. Hundreds of thousands of global companies were forced to halt assembly lines, causing a cycle of shortage in the world’s supply chain. This is why car lots, lumber yards, toilet paper aisles, gas stations and retail outlets are empty – it’s also why thieves are so aggressively going after these same products that organizations and end-users need. While cargo theft has always been a problem, incidents have increased by over 23% since before the pandemic. 

There are a few key issues that arise in direct alignment with the increase in theft activity since the start of the coronavirus. This includes how non-violent criminals, such as cargo thieves, are being released early from jail in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in detention facilities. They’re stepping out into a world where it’s a challenge to find a job due to skeleton staffing in closed workplaces, and normal goods such as toilet paper are hard to get ahold of. In addition, law enforcement is focusing on more extreme offenses as these criminals with minor charges are released.  

As cargo theft continues to increase, how can organizations protect themselves from the threats these brazen thieves pose? The answer: start by ensuring you have an end-to-end risk-management solution that provides real-time transportation visibility to your entire supply chain.  This gives organizations an upper hand, integrating all of their carrier data into a single unified view. Through visibility platforms, companies are also able to set up alerts that notify them if a driver is in a high-risk zone for theft, leaves the truck running, or other dangerous behaviors that jeopardize the safety of the cargo.    

At Overhaul, we take protecting your shipment seriously. In addition to our real-time visibility and risk management platform, we also have an Intelligence and Response team that works with our Global Security Operations Center that analyzes information and proactively anticipates the movements of these events to match with disruptions in the area of the shipment. In the event of theft, Overhaul’s Intelligence and Response team provides shipment information directly to the responding law enforcement officers via the LE Connect mobile application. LE Connect sends real-time tracking, pictures, and data directly to the officer’s smartphone – streamlining communication and providing critical information directly into the hands of those who need it most.  

To learn how organizations are taking control of their supply chain through real-time visibility and risk management, contact Overhaul today at www.over-haul.com.  

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