EDMONTON – The insurance and trucking industries are expanding a program to Western Canada in the hope of putting the brakes on truck cargo theft.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates the theft of transport trucks and merchandise is costing the Canadian economy about $5 billion each year.
Thieves, sometimes linked to organized crime groups, steal entire shipments of goods, such as consumer electronics or beer, and then quickly sell the items on the black market – sometimes before the theft is even reported.
“It can cost the economy billions of dollars per year,” the insurance bureau said Monday. “Also, it is often linked to organized crime.”
Bureau spokeswoman Celyeste Power said crime groups will place a call for a specific item and thieves will look for a truck carrying that cargo.
Once a truck with the desired goods is found, thieves will wait until the vehicle is parked, break into it and load the goods into smaller vehicles.
She said in one case robbers stole a whole truckload of Alexander Keith’s beer in Nova Scotia. The stolen suds ended up in Alberta.
To reduce such thefts, the insurance bureau has a cargo theft program that allows people to anonymously report crimes using a phone tipline and the Internet.
The information is compiled in a database that can be consulted by police, insurers and trucking companies.
Power said cargo thefts have not been widely reported and have sometimes been written off as part of the cost of doing business. But the losses suffered by insurers and trucking companies are ultimately passed on to consumers.
The program has been working well in Ontario for a few years and was expanded to Atlantic Canada last summer, Power said.
It’s being rolled out in Western Canada this week.
The insurance bureau believes that including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba will help make theft reporting more effective.
“If something is stolen in one jurisdiction, it is put into the program and it is beamed straight across the country, and now in Western Canada,” Power said.
“If it comes up in their jurisdiction, they can find the rightful owners and get it back to them.”