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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cargo Theft

Nice report from the Chicago Tribune on cargo theft, a $10-15 billion problem:
Nationwide, the cargo industry and FBI estimate $10 billion to $15 billion in goods slip away from cargo docks, warehouses and truck lots in the U.S. each year, joining a river of stolen commerce that continues to swell.

Compared to the revenues of Fortune 500 companies, cargo theft ranks just behind Anheuser-Busch in annual business, alongside U.S. Steel and Samsung.

Ultimately consumers pay for that. Commercial security experts and law enforcement officials estimate this dry-land piracy could add as much as 20 percent to the cost of a computer, 5 percent to a designer shirt.

Most cargo these days is shipped in standard-sized steel containers, which can be loaded onto trucks, trains or ships. The equivalent of about 12 million of those cargo containers pass through the Chicago area each year, according to the Chicago Area Transportation Study, making the region the third-busiest freight-transfer point in the world, behind Hong Kong and Singapore.

Along the way, goods are lost, stolen or diverted to the black market. The contents of entire containers make their way into shady stores in city neighborhoods far from where they're stolen, or they are sold online. Police say many of us buy into this black market when we find an impossibly good deal.

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