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The freight arm of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NAVCIS) is on the hunt for industry partners to help it tackle rapidly rising levels of cargo theft from lorries.

The call comes just two weeks after the theft of £5m of Apple products, from a truck exiting the M1, which saw the HGV driver and his security guard tied up and kidnapped.

NAVCIS Freight focuses on gathering intelligence on freight theft from trucks, working with local police forces and the industry to prevent cargo theft and track down the criminals and the stolen goods and vehicles.

Despite being a national police unit, NAVCIS has not received any Home Office funding since 2012 and NAVCIS Freight is totally reliant on the support of its current sponsors, which include the RHA, insurers TT Club and Beazley, tech firm Technology Enterprises and the British International Freight Association.

However, despite this industry support last year the lack of adequate funding saw one of the two officers seconded to the freight team made redundant.

Freight theft numbers remain in their thousands. According to NAVCIS Freight, there were 4,364 notifications of theft from HGVs last year, of which 29 saw HGV drivers assaulted. NAVCIS estimates that the cost price loss of these thefts in 2019 amounted to £116m - with the retail price estimated to be several times higher.

So far this year, there have been 3,661 notifications of theft of cargo and freight from HGVs, of which 1212 involved curtainsiders being slashed to gain entry, 537 involved trailer seals and padlocks being breached or cut and another 797 notifications were at motorway service areas (MSAs) – which equates to 22% of all offences.

Despite NAVCIS and its partners liaising with MSAs in a bid to cut the level of offences on MSA sites there has been little if any improvement this year with 2019 seeing 245 of cargo theft from trucks committed at MSAs. The combined cost price loss value of those thefts during 2020 currently stands at £81.7m.

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NAVCIS believes the overall drop in thefts this year is largely due to the first pandemic lockdown and is warning that cargo thefts from trucks are back on the rise as consumers increasingly switch to online shopping during the pandemic and as the busy peak season approaches.

Mike Dawber, field intelligence officer on the NAVCIS freight desk, told “Freight crime has an impact on all of us. Consumers get hit when they do not receive their goods and costs are accumulated which need to be redistributed and there is brand damage, especially when products are resold in undesirable locations.

“Cargo theft is clearly an organised crime which affects the whole of the UK and the damage comes in many forms. We are coming up to the busiest time of the year and NAVCIS has succeeded in mapping the threat to the UK economy and is working with the police authorities and with industry partners to combat all types of cargo theft from lorries.

“The more we know where it is happening, the more we can tackle this. There have been more than 50 arrests in the past three months but so much more could be done with greater industry support.”

Tom Cotton, RHA head of licensing and infrastructure policy, is also calling on logistics firms to give their support by becoming NAVCIS Freight partners.

He said: “NAVCIS is unique in that the unit collates and disseminates intelligence about vehicle and load theft. This enables recovered loads to be reunited with the loser, by using serial and URN on goods.

“It is entirely funded by industry - RHA sponsors NAVCIS activity. However with more funding, more work can be done to prevent thefts taking place and a greater deterrent capability by informing operators and drivers about how to avoid being victims of crime.

“Everyone in the supply chain can benefit from the work that NAVCIS does and I would encourage supply chain organisations to offer financial support to further NAVCIS work.”

Companies and organisations interested in becoming NAVCIS partners should contact NAVCIS at