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The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) is urging hauliers to take action to prevent cargo theft after more than 900 notifications of freight crime were recorded in the first three months of 2021, with angle grinders used for the first time ever to break into metal sided trailers.

PC Mike Dawber, field intelligence officer for NaVCIS Freight, said: “There was a national pattern of reduced crime reporting during the first national lockdown, due to the increase in the amount of time that people were spending at home.

“As restrictions have gradually lifted we have seen levels of reported freight crime steadily increase, heading towards pre-pandemic figures.

“While the number of reports received for the first three months of 2021 is below average, the freight industry still needs to be vigilant against freight crime.”

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NaVCIS said a new method of entry to the HGV trailers was reported during this period. Referred to as ‘hard side – hole cut’, thieves used an angle grinder to open the metal skin of the trailer, with the new technique used four times, all at motorway service areas on the M1.

PC Dawber said this is a significant development: He explained: “While this method is certainly not common, it’s important that haulage companies are aware. This method relies on an angle grinder, which shows the level of organisation and determination of those committing this type of offence.

“Gaining entry to trailers is still the most common method of cargo theft. Usually this involves curtain slashing, where a sharp object is used to cut the curtain to access the cargo. It’s crucial that haulage companies make use of prevention techniques to help defend themselves and the cargo they transport.”

NaVCIS said there were 1,192 reports of cargo crime in Q1 of last year compared with 921 in Q1 2019.

The figures are dependent on receiving regular data from the 43 police forces along with notifications from cargo insurers, cargo surveyors and insurers.