Your Supply Chain Is Only As Safe As the Most Insecure Point

Just like a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, your supply chain is only as safe as the most insecure point – and the surprising thing (to you) is that it’s probably not where you think it is (at least not if you do business the local way).

As per this recent article over on the Logistics Briefing Blog, 2012 is a record breaking year for freight criminals. It was bound to happen sooner or later. As the article points out, with an average electronics shipment valued between 3 Million and 30 Million, these shipments are worth a lot more than most shipments of drugs or even guns, and are more valuable to thieves in more ways than one.

  1. The margins are higher.
    The cost of an operation to steal one of these shipments is typically 10% of the value, or less. It truly is a steal.
  2. The risk are lower.
    Most law enforcement agencies haven’t realized just how attractive these shipments are to criminals.
  3. The downside is much lower.
    If you do get caught, and it’s a first offence, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up in jail (unless the theft was violent and someone got hurt). In comparison, if you’re running drugs, you’re going to jail. Even if it’s just a few ounces of marijuana. (Plus, the chances of being hunted down by a heavily armed SWAT team are miniscule in comparison.)

But what is really going to surprise you is where the crime is picking up. Many of the significant thefts are in the EU! A recent theft in Hungary involved about €3 Million worth of smart-phones. Theft in the Netherlands shot up when the U.K. launched Operation Grafton to reduce thefts in Heathrow. And freight crime in Belgium has increased 90%.

So for those of you worried about India and China, think again. (And, as mentioned in the first paragraph, if you’re willing to do business the traditional way in those countries, and grease a few palms, your cargo will be quite safe. SI is not endorsing this, especially if you’re in the U.S. or the U.K. where such actions might be seen as violating the FCPA or the Bribery Act, but just noting that, statistically these countries are safer to ship in than a number of countries in Europe and can be much safer than just about anywhere in the world with the right preparations. The point is that your first instinct is probably not the right one when it comes to judging safe shipping zones.)