Holiday weekends are notorious for presenting increased shoplifting risks for retailers as shoppers flood the stores looking for bargains and those must-find holiday gifts. Opportunities presented by the confusion and distractions of a crowded store coupled with the desire to fulfill holiday shopping lists on tight budgets are a tempting combination that lead many to make poor decisions. Retail loss prevention teams across the country have come to expect the annual challenges of increased shoplifting incidents that commonly occur during this busy season.

However, there are other potential risks that we must prepare for during the holidays as well. According to FreightWatch International, the risk of cargo theft incidents is much higher during the holiday season, and the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend should demand additional supply chain security measures for retailers looking to protect their precious holiday merchandise.

“Organized cargo theft rings are always active and recognize that holiday weekends can lead to shipments being unattended for prolonged periods of time,” the firm noted.

Since 2010, the transportation industry has experienced over three cargo theft incidents per day during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 27% over the annual average of 2.4 thefts per non-holiday day during that time period, according to the report. During this elevated threat period, the theft of electronic products, clothing and shoes typically increase as cargo theft targets, and Home & Garden products supplant Food & Drinks as the products most stolen as part of cargo theft incidents over the holidays.

The logistics security services provider added that there were 12 reported supply chain theft incidents during the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend totaling over $930,000 in reported losses, including two “fictitious pickups” in California, which is one of the latest tactics being deployed by thieves to steal freight.

Other notable supply chain thefts recorded in recent years during the Thanksgiving holiday include:

• 2014 – A cargo theft involving $560,000 in cosmetics in North Carolina
• 2013 – A distribution facility theft of $648,000 of alcohol in the state of Washington
• 2013 – A cargo theft involving $250,000 worth of Seafood in New Jersey;
• 2012 – A cargo theft involving $540,000 worth of Copper in Illinois;
• 2012 – A cargo theft involving $200,000 in electronics in California.

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FreightWatch International recommends that logistics and loss prevention professionals ensure that all appropriate security protocols are up to date, and industry best practices are followed for in-transit and warehouse operations. Both of these will be heavily targeted over the weekend via traditional and non-traditional cargo theft methods. Every retailer should also be aware of the potential risks at store locations as well; whether trailers are transported and maintained at loading dock areas or storage cartons are located on the premises.

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