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Prince Amir Al Saud

Cargo Theft and the Threat to Economic and National Security

Cargo Theft and the Threat to Economic and National Security

Every year, close to 30 billion US dollars is lost to cargo theft. And while the economic ramifications of such incidents are readily apparent, its implications to national security should be a major cause of concern among peace-loving citizens. Not only does cargo theft exposes the security vulnerabilities of the nation, it also undermines commercial and industrial activities necessary to move the nation towards economic growth and prosperity. Cargo theft exposes the security gaps found in today’s global supply chain and the transportation infrastructure.

The supply chain requires the effective management of individual resources in order to facilitate the movement or transfer of products, goods, or merchandise from its point of origin to the consumers. This involves a lot of processing and documentation as well as collaborative partnerships with shipping and moving companies. Any issue in these processes can significantly impact the delivery of goods or merchandise to their intended destination. Additionally, ensuring the safety and security of the merchandise in transit is crucial to ensuring the integrity of the whole supply chain. As such, if the transportation infrastructure is affected, the whole supply chain crumbles. The end result is palpable as economic losses.

There are many threats to the transportation infrastructure. Chief among these is cargo theft. When the merchandise in transit is lost to highway robbers, it deprives consumers of the right to use these merchandises for their personal or business activities. In essence, cargo theft not only involves robbing the company of valuable commodities, it also robs the ordinary consumers of their right to purchase and use such commodity. 

While cargo theft accounts for a great majority of economic losses, natural disasters can also have its fair share of negative effects on the supply chain. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can all render roads and highways impassable.

While the merchandise may only be delayed for a few days to a few weeks, the economic impact on both the company and the consumer is very real. In worst cases, entire merchandises are lost because of accidents during natural disasters, often rendering these products as essentially useless for consumer utilization. Perhaps the more serious concern about lapses in the security of transportation infrastructure is the threat of terrorism.

Highly sensitive merchandise that are being transported from one location to another can be the target of cargo theft with the intent of selling these parts to organized crimes as well as terrorist organizations for a host of terroristic acts and illegal activities.

Commercial trucks may be hijacked and used to transport contraband. In some cases, containers have been stolen for the purpose of human smuggling. The smuggling of drugs, weapons, and money are often made a lot easier by the use of hijacked commercial moving vehicles as law enforcement authorities will never doubt the validity of an appropriately-labeled moving company vehicle.

Unfortunately, the security measures of moving and shipping companies are simply not enough to counter the threat of highway robbery, cargo theft, criminal organizations, and terrorist groups. And while a great number of transportation companies actively cooperate and collaborate with law enforcement agencies, local and federal, criminal elements and terrorist organizations are also finding more and more innovative and creative ways to disrupt the global supply chain.

Addressing the problem requires a review of security measures in each of the critical steps involved in the global supply chain. This includes ensuring the safety and security of the transportation infrastructure not only from cargo theft but also from organized criminal activities and terrorist threats. And while it may take some time before any significant improvements in cargo theft statistics can be seen, all parties to the supply chain should be able to work hand in hand together with law enforcement agencies in ensuring the integrity of the supply chain.   

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