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HGV cargo thefts on the rise

By Ian | Nov, 15, 2023 | Latest News, Transport

In an ideal world, each shipment arrives on time, undamaged, and without interference. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. 

In 2022, there were more than 5,000 reports of freight crime in the UK, amounting to a total of around £66m worth of lost cargo[1]. As we head towards the latter stages of 2023, this number only continues to rise. 

So, what do you need to be aware of and what can you do to help reduce your risk on the road? Read on to find out more.  

 Overnight crisis 

Whilst HGV cargo theft has always been an issue of some significance for logistics and transport companies across the country, there has been a staggering rise seemingly overnight.  

From June to July this year, HGV cargo theft rates have skyrocketed, with some local police bodies reporting an increase of 380% in just a single month[2]. This dramatic hike turns what was once an ‘issue to be aware of’ into a pressing concern and very real threat. 

Whilst the value of 2022’s stolen cargo amounted to £66m, the true cost could be up to 10-times higher after insurance, policing, vehicle repairs, and many other hidden costs. As this crisis rages on, the costs continue to stack up. 

Staying aware 

The risk of theft is apparent for haulage services of all specialisms, however there are some industries experiencing much higher rates of crime than others. If your transport or logistics company regularly carries any of the following cargo types, you should remain particularly vigilant.  

In 2022, the most common commodities stolen were Food and Beverage (17%), Fuel, Agriculture, Electronics (all 9%), Automotive, and Construction (both 8%)[3] 

However, it’s not just about what you’re carrying, it’s also about where you’re carrying it. Local police reports found that almost half (46%) of all HGV cargo thefts occurred on streets or road laybys, with the second most common (27%) being at service stations[4] 

When transporting cargo, taking regular breaks and refuelling are all unavoidable parts of the haulage service, so you certainly can’t just cut these out. However, taking effective measures to minimise risk wherever possible is both doable and crucial to maximising your efficiency and driver safety.  

 Steps to take 

There are a host of measures you can employ to help your haulage service combat HGV cargo theft, some of which are more straightforward than others.  

For measures you can put into action right away, consider briefing your drivers to ensure their vehicle is fully locked and alarmed each and every time they exit the rig. Whilst it doesn’t eliminate the risk of a thief slashing your vehicle’s curtain sides, keeping the trailer load doors locked whilst in motion and locking the cab doors when loading or unloading are all simple ways to reduce the threat where possible.  

Small measures like this are very simple to employ, but they greatly reduce the window of opportunity for would-be thieves to exploit. As the saying goes, it only takes one time.   

When it comes to overnight stops, the highest levels of safety can be found in dedicated parking areas with security personnel, CCTV, secure fencing, and controlled entry/exit. Unfortunately, these sites aren’t as commonplace as we’d like them to be, but utilising these wherever possible is sure to minimise your exposure to overnight crime.  

For longer-term security, consider developing a varied route and break pattern, ensuring your drivers do not regularly stop at the same locations. This, combined with an alternating delivery destination, can remove predictability from the equation and make it significantly more difficult for criminals to anticipate your movements. 

Another operational measure you can implement is to rework your collection or departure times to earlier in the day, allowing your drivers more time to travel during daylight hours. In a similar fashion, you can also see benefits from incorporating a higher rate of ‘load-and-go’ services, where a driver makes no intermediary stops or transfers and travels directly to the recipient destination. Both of these solutions reduce the need for travel at night and can help negate the risk of theft or other crime.  


While our industry faces a surge in HGV cargo theft, it’s vital to remain aware of the situation and employ best practice wherever possible to minimise risk. 

Remaining vigilant, following procedures to the letter, and reporting criminal activity are all key ways to keep the transport and logistics industry running smoothly. 

If you spot any suspicious activity around parked HGVs, whether they are yours or another organisation’s, call 999 immediately.  



[1] Britain’s cargo theft crisis: why crime is rising on UK roads, The Grocer, March 2023 

[2] Cambridgeshire Police record 380 per cent rise in HGV crimes, Cambs Times, Aug 2023 

[3] Britain’s cargo theft crisis: why crime is rising on UK roads, The Grocer, March 2023 

[4] Cambridgeshire Police record 380 per cent rise in HGV crimes, Cambs Times, Aug 2023