Phones, cigarettes, jewellery… – Biggest CARGO thefts in Europe

Combined cargo crime intelligence for March and April 2021 recorded by TAPA’s Incident Information Service (IIS) includes losses of goods worth nearly €7 million in 26 countries in the Europe, Middle East & Africa region, as well as several fatalities and the arrests of police officers involved in a truck hijacking in South Africa.

In total, TAPA’s IIS received reports on 274 cargo thefts or attempted thefts in the 61 days of March and April. Only 105 or 38.3% of these incidents shared a loss value, totalling €6,926,727 or an average for these crimes of €65,969.

Eight of these theft reports provided insights into major cargo thefts of goods worth €100,000 or more, averaging €464,826. These included:

  • €3,307,214

On 3 March in Kelvin, South Africa, police received information on a planned armed robbery of a truck carrying a consignment of Phones. Upon arrival, police officers came under gunfire from the suspects and retaliated. Fourteen offenders were subsequently arrested, while others escaped on foot. One security guard and one suspect were fatally shot.

  • €400,000

A truck driver and his assistant waiting to deliver a shipment of cigarettes to a Destination Facility in Vienne, France, on 30 March, were approached by four offenders and forced to move the truck to a dead end road and park next to a van. The driver and assistant were then instructed to transfer the load of cigarettes into the van before the offenders torched the delivery truck and escaped.

  • €275,000

Three offenders with firearms stole a shipment of jewellery and gold in Lyon, France, on 26 March, as it was being transferred to a delivery vehicle. Their escape vehicle was later found burnt out.

  • €150,000

In Coslada, Spain, on 27 March, police officers recovered a truck and unspecified cargo that had been stolen from a parking place in Pinto, Madrid.

  • €139,470

7,500 thermometers were stolen from a facility in Istanbul, Turkey, on 17 March after thieves entered the building at night and loaded their own truck. Using CCTV footage, police traced the truck to a local logistics company and recovered the cargo at its premises. Three suspects reportedly confessed to the crime.

  • €100,000

In Rheinbollen, Germany, offenders broke into a trailer on 15 March and stole a load of coffee machines.

  • €100,000

In another major cargo crime in Germany in this latest reporting period, a shipment of phones was stolen from a facility in Egglosheim, Bavaria, on 7 April.

IIS intelligence received in March and April also included news of the arrests of two employees who allegedly stole over €100,000 of cargo over a six-month period from an Aviation Transportation Facility in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, UK.


TAPA EMEA also received reports of a further 13 incidents with loss values of between €50,000 and €100,000. These produced total and average losses of €806,073 and €62,082 respectively.

Of the 26 countries recording new cargo thefts in TAPA’s IIS database in March and April, the top five were:

United Kingdom 76 incidents or 27.7% of the two-month total
Germany 71 or 26.0%
South Africa 31 or 11.3%
Russia 14 or 5.1%
Hungary 13 or 4.7%

Source: TAPA 

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