HGV cargo thieves have kicked off the new year with a spate of attacks across the country, prompting police to step up roadside stops of the types of trucks and vans most likely to be used by cargo criminals.

According to the latest report from the freight arm of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), the first month of the year has seen at least 218 HGV and cargo thefts committed.

These crimes amount to an estimated cost price loss of £5.1m, with the average cost price loss value per incident running at £23,578.

NaVCIS is a national police unit which receives notifications of HGV and cargo crime from the police, hauliers, businesses, insurers, cargo surveyors and industry associations and works with police forces across the country to prevent cargo and HGV thefts.

In its latest bulleting NaVCIS warned: “Highly organised teams of thieves are targeting lorries, road freight and cargo, nationally,” adding that the gangs’ modus operandi is to slash curtain trailers and cut the padlocks and seals to steal pallets of goods from lorries at overnight parking locations.

The report added that offenders will use certain types of HGVs and LGVs vehicles to transport the stolen goods. As a result police are stepping up road side stops of those makes of trucks and vans. The three vehicles that are mostly used for cargo thefts, according to police reports, are 7.5 Tonne curtain sided lorries, 18 tonne curtain-sided lorries and Mercedes Sprinter vans. 

Incidents in January include the theft of a white Renault tractor unit from Heston services on the M4 in London, on the morning of 25 January. The incident is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police.

NaVCIS is also working with the Derbyshire Police following the theft of food and drink from two lorries parked at the Tibshelf services on the M1 in Derbyshire, on 22 January. Police enquiries are ongoing.

On the same evening at Colsterworth, on the A1 in Lincolnshire, a lorry was broken into and a consignment of pharmaceutical goods was stolen, including prescription drugs and epilepsy medication.

A trailer hook-up theft on 20 January in Ellesmere Port is currently being investigated by Cheshire Police. The trailer was preloaded with a consignment of wine.

Humberside police are currently working with NaVCIS to raise awareness of an increase in HGV fuel theft on the M180, the A180 and the A15 and are requesting clearer information from HGV drivers when reporting these incidents. NaVCIS is appealing to HGV drivers to consider using the location app What3Words to help police respond quickly to these incidents, which can occur in hard to locate lay-bys.

Arrests connected to cargo and HGV thefts have been made throughout the month of January by police across the country. These include the arrest of three men from Doncaster and a fourth man from York on the A38 Kingsway in Derby, on the evening of 9 January, after Derbyshire police responded to a report of a lorry having its locks cut.

On 16 January Cambridgeshire police responded to a report of an HGV crime at Peterborough services on the A1. Shortly after they arrested four men from Yorkshire at the Brampton Hut services on the A14 on suspicion of the offences.

In Leicestershire on 15 January police stopped and searched a suspicious Mercedes Sprinter van and found the van had cloned number plates and was stolen. Leicestershire police said the van had been stopped as a precursor to a possible HGV crime offence and that three men from Doncaster have been arrested.

Any information in relation to HGV and cargo theft can be reported to freight@navcis.police.uk