West Yorkshire experienced the most cargo thefts in 2018 with London emerging as a "high risk" area, according to a new report.

The BSI report, compiled with supply chain risk consultancy Screen, analysed cargo theft rates across the country in 2018.

It reveals that West Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, followed by Kent, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire respectively, were the top five regions for cargo theft in the period.

London also emerged as “a major high risk area of concern” for cargo theft in 2018, with more than 200 recorded incidents in the Greater London area.

Unlike the rest of the country, where the most common tactic is “slash and grab”, in London thieves tended to target trucks in transit or at delivery sites, with an “overwhelming” number targeting tobacco products.

The report also recorded a significant amount of cargo theft incidents in Greater Manchester, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, and Warwickshire.

It also notes that while thefts were generally evenly distributed throughout the year, thefts peaked during the fourth quarter.

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The report found that 2,709 cargo theft incidents in 2018 were recorded, a significant increase from 1,596 recorded in the previous year.

However, BSI attributed the sharp rise to increased data sharing with police forces across the UK.

“It is unlikely that this increase in recorded incidents is due to any change in the UK’s threat environment, and the overall risk to cargo theft likely remained relatively static,” it said.

Motorway Service Areas

The M1 motorway ranked as the top highway route targeted by cargo thieves in 2018, accounting for nearly a quarter (24%) of all incidents recorded on transportation routes, the report found.

It also recorded a spike in thefts along the M62, with a significant number of cargo thefts on this route occurring at the Hartshead Moor MSA in West Yorkshire.

“Thieves made several high value thefts at this location, many of which involved electronic products, as well as an extremely high value theft of pharmaceuticals.

“As with many other motorway service areas (MSAs) in the country, trucks parked at Hartshead Moor motorway service area are generally vulnerable to theft due to the insufficient security measures in place.

"These security gaps increase the vulnerability of trucks to thefts by both organized and opportunistic thieves," the report noted.

Other MSAs with “significant” numbers of cargo thefts in 2018 include Leicester Forest East, followed by the Trowell, Newport Pagnell, Toddington and Castle Donington services.

Improved security measures at Northampton services saw the number of cargo theft incidents at the MSA fall in 2018.


West Yorkshire accounted for approximately 12% of all incidents in the UK over the year ,with companies losing around £10m.

Northamptonshire came in second with cargo thefts in the county representing 10% of all UK cargo thefts at a value of £8m.

Kent took third place, with 9% of all cargo thefts in the UK taking place in the county, with a value of £5m.

BSI recorded the fourth most cargo theft incidents in Leicestershire, which accounted for 8% of all thefts with a significant spike in incidents in June and a high number of incidents until the end of 2018, with thieves stealing a total of £6m in goods.

Nottinghamshire took fifth place in 2018 with approximately 7% of all cargo thefts occurring in the county, valued at £4m.

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