NBCS urges logistics firms to help stub out tobacco theft
The National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) is urging logistics companies to do more to halt the rapid escalation in tobacco theft from the rear of delivery vehicles.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of reported incidents, with police figures stating at least 240 cases of theft, and in some cases robbery, of tobacco from logistics vehicles across the UK since April 2018, affecting some of the high street’s biggest names, resulting in significant losses.
Tobacco thefts are currently being carried out across all regions of the UK by organised criminal gangs (OCGs), which are able to commit their crimes with relative ease, according to the NBCS, a not for profit initiative that enables the sharing of data between law enforcement agencies and the business community in order to reduce crime.
The modus operandi is usually similar, with thieves either entering a lorry whilst en-route from a distribution centre at either traffic lights or in heavy traffic, or at a store whilst a driver is making a delivery.
It is thought that offenders park close to a distribution centre, follow a vehicle and wait for a suitable opportunity to commit the offence. In some situations they force drivers to pull over and block their route, whilst other members of a gang gain access into the trailer and steal tobacco. On some occasions, when tobacco has not been present, electronic goods have also been stolen.
Making sure a vehicle is secure during transit is the first and most obvious method of protection against these attacks. If further security is required then technology such as cameras that can be monitored by the driver can be installed, as can alarms and panic buttons.
Risk management is also a key factor, so logistics firms need to establish and implement an in-transit security policy with clear procedures for the driver to follow. This policy must be well communicated, so that a driver knows what measures should be taken to protect cargo, what to do if confronted with a theft situation, and the procedures for reporting a theft.
‘The transportation of goods is the weak link in the logistics supply chain and risk increases as soon as a vehicle leaves the relative safety of the depot and enters the road network,’ commented NBCS managing director, Daniel Hardy.
‘The rise in tobacco theft from delivery vehicles by OCGs is obviously a worrying trend but good risk management is key to preventing property theft and demands stricter security measures. When deciding which measures to take, factors such as geographical locations, routes, the time of delivery and nature of the goods being carried should all be considered, as well as the effective briefing of the drivers delivering such products.”
NBCS is working with its members and the police to try to halt this trend by encouraging police officers to feed back information to the NBCS via firstname.lastname@example.org so offences are not written off at source.
Also, NBCS will liaise with Regional Intelligence Units and the newly formed ROCTA network, as well as Op Liberal which deals with traveller-related issues to ensure all investigative opportunities are considered.