Cargo crime warning for Gulf countries

By Rebecca Jeffrey

Photo: Shutterstock

Over three-quarters of cargo theft in Gulf countries occurs at logistics hubs and warehouses, a new report by TT Club and BSI has found.

Intended as a risk mitigation tool for transport operators, the report by the international freight transport insurer and the business improvement and standards company comes during a seasonal spike in cargo movements.

Key findings of ‘Cargo Crime in Gulf Countries and Regional Free Trade Zones’ are: 76% of cargo theft is from warehouse and storage facilities; crime hot-spots are in the UAE & Saudi Arabia; high-value goods such as electronics are targeted; insider assistance and corruption plays a prominent role; and smuggling of illicit contraband is prevalent in Free trade Zones (FTZ).

The report highlights that warehouse thefts and supply chain corruption are the stand-outs, with a concentration on higher risk areas across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The role special economic zones play in the Middle East also effects regional disparities in cargo theft.

Free Trade Zones (FTZ) are a significant feature of the regional economy and represent potential vulnerabilities for supply chains by virtue of facilitating high volumes of trade under simplified customs procedures that can provide opportunities for criminals to act. Furthermore, as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies return to pre-pandemic levels, and data provided by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) is projecting growth in trade, it is possible that criminals will also seek to exploit these higher volumes of cargo throughput to introduce illicit drugs and counterfeited products into shipments.

There is also valuable guidance on mitigating the risk contained in the report. These guidelines cover avoiding the introduction of drugs into shipments; reducing theft from facilities and combating counterfeit smuggling, all of which are of particular concern in the Middle East region. 

TT Club’s Mike Yarwood said: “Our reports are intended to alert those in the supply chain to the variable and developing trends in the risk of cargo theft during intermodal transportation. The unique combination of BSI sourced data on criminal activity and TT Club’s insurance claims records provides valuable intelligence to operators.

“Regular updates of this nature are essential as criminal gangs are constantly altering their points of attack. The current prevalence of supply chain congestion, delays, disruption, and in the Middle East region in particular packed warehouses, makes such information critical.”

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