Cargo Theft is Up 57% – And They’re Targeting Nikes

By: Lauren | Last updated: Nov 21, 2023

According to the first quarter of 2023, cargo theft is already up an incredible 57% compared to that of 2022. 

While smash-and-grab robberies were the most common theft crime through the pandemic, it seems that the new way to steal is not only bigger and more organized, it also offers much more of a payoff. 

What is Cargo Theft?

Here’s how it works: Huge cargo trains full of retail goods are derailed and even misdirected in order for the thieves to ransack the products inside. 


Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The criminals steal credentials from logistics brokers or even change the pickup addresses for cargo deliveries to initiate the plan. These schemes are organized and elaborate, and sometimes, the thieves can literally steal an entire loaded trailer. 


Cargo Thefts Total More than $44 Million in Stolen Goods

In only the second quarter of 2023, CargoNet claims that more than $44 million worth of products have been stolen during 582 cargo thefts around the country. 


Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

And it’s not just the sheer number of cargo thefts that’s increasing the revenue, it’s also the value per shipment. The thieves are now targeting high-value shipments, making an incredible $260,703 per shipment. 

Where Is Cargo Theft Happening?

The thefts are centralized to California, Texas, Illinois, and Florida. In fact, 51% of all quarter two thefts occurred in Texas, California, and Illinois. And there are also many especially high-value shipments traveling on the I-40 corridor through Arizona, California, and New Mexico being hit. 


Source: CargoNet

Though there are certainly cargo thefts happening almost everywhere that trains deliver trailers of retail goods. 

What’s in the Cargo Trailers?

Although some trailers are carrying food, beverages, and electronics, a surprising amount of the thefts have focused specifically on Nike shipments. In June, Los Angeles authorities recovered $3 million worth of stolen Nike products.


Source: Adobe Stock

Nike products are being hijacked during every phase of shipment, including distribution centers, warehouses, trucks, and, of course, trains. 

Why Is Cargo Theft So Rampant?

Cargo theft is profitable, but it’s also extremely challenging. So why is this type of theft so prominent? The truth is that investigating and enforcing cargo theft is extremely hard to do. 

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Law enforcement agencies around the country simply haven’t been able to manage prosecuting these crimes even after they happen, let alone preventing them. And this lack of enforcement has “embolden organized groups,” according to CargoNet.


What Does Cargo Theft Mean for Retail Business?

Sadly, these thefts are taking a serious toll on retail businesses—specifically, those based in Los Angeles, where cargo crime is centralized. Some businesses are even closing stores to make up for the financial loss. 

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Nick Stewart, a detective at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stated, “We’ve seen stores that are completely shutting down their business and moving out of the communities that we service.”


What to Learn More About Cargo Theft?

While cargo theft has always been an issue, the incredible increase this year is almost unbelievable. Whether you operate a retail store or simply want to understand exactly what’s going on in regards to cargo theft around the country, CargoNet is a valuable resource.

Source: David McNew/Getty Images

Cargo Net offers statistics and information, attempts to recover stolen cargo, and helps companies reduce the risk of being victims of this frustrating crime.