Pharma cargo theft in Canada violent and getting worse

While the U.S. has seen dramatic improvements in foiling pharmaceutical cargo thieves, the rest of the world remains a pretty dangerous place for drug shipping--even Canada.

In an international round-up report, FreightWatch International reiterates that for the U.S., 2011 was the first year on record in which the "pharmaceutical industry did not have the highest value per theft incident." And the average theft of pharmaceuticals tracked by FreightWatch was $585,000, down 6.5 times from the $3.7 million average loss in 2010. That was the lowest average pharmaceutical loss value since 2006.

But in neighboring Canada, pharmaceutical cargo theft has not only steadily increased since 2009; it is responsible for more incidents involving violence than any other. In January 2011, a container of pharmaceuticals headed to Australia was hijacked from the Garfield Transport Yard in Montreal. There were also full‐truckload thefts from secured yards, the report says.

Surprisingly, pharmaceutical losses in Mexico grew only 4% last year. However, in South America, cargo theft intensified--particularly in industrial cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Caracas. Argentina and Brazil were the worst countries for cargo theft of pharmaceuticals, and because the heists generally involve well-armed assailants, most of the incidents have been classified as hijackings. To protect their shipments, most shippers are now using sophisticated technology. And for loads worth $1 million or more, many shippers are resorting to using armed escorts, which, depending on how you view it, could make violence more likely.

In Russia, Moscow continues to be the riskiest area, although there are rampant problems throughout the country. FreightWatch says that because of spotty reporting, it is difficult to get a handle on the scope of the problem. But pharmaceuticals remain high on the list of cargo being stolen. In March 2011, two trucks carrying an estimated $6 million worth of pharmaceuticals between Moscow and St. Petersburg were stolen when thieves posing as police officers hijacked them. Authorities eventually found the trucks (but not the loads).
- see the FreightWatch report (registration required)