A New Cargo Theft Tactic Has Emerged: Document Forgery


Document forgery in cargo theft is an emerging and growing problem, with significant increases in incidents and the value of stolen goods. The logistics and transportation industry faces a new level of sophisticated crime, leading to potential financial and operational challenges. Key states have seen substantial increases in thefts, with targeted goods ranging from small appliances to copper. The industry must adapt to these changes and develop strategies to combat this evolving threat. Here are the key things you need to know.


  • Emergence of Document Forgery: Document forgery has become a significant crime in cargo theft, according to Keith Lewis of CargoNet.
  • Rising Cargo Thefts: The first quarter of 2024 saw an unusually high number of cargo thefts.
  • We have not experienced this at ARL, but we are getting in front of the matter to ensure we don't fall victim to the activity. 

Key Statistics:

  • Increase in Incidents: 46% year-over-year increase to 925 incidents.
  • 10% increase from the fourth quarter of 2023.
  • Value of Stolen Goods: $154.6 million worth of goods stolen.

How They Do It - Document Forgery Explained:

  • Criminals impersonate professional drivers to fraudulently secure loads.
  • They partially unload the cargo at the destination.
  • Bills of lading are altered to show the entire load was delivered.
  • This method is easier to commit and evade detection.

Industry Impact and Concerns:

  • Increasing crime rates in the wrong direction.
  • Potential cost burden on the industry.
  • Insurance companies may soon push back due to rising claims.

Regional Data - States with Significant Increases:

  • California: 72% year-over-year increase.
  • Illinois: 126% increase.
  • Texas: 22% increase.
  • Targeted Goods: Small appliances, liquor, energy drinks, and copper.

Understanding the Criminal Rings:

  • More people involved in cargo theft post-pandemic.
  • Shift from smaller domestic rings to sophisticated international operations.
  • Larger and more structured operations.
  • Call centers as big as targeted freight brokers.
  • Increased difficulty in tracking stolen loads.

Expert Insights:

Scott Cornell of Travelers: 

  • Cargo thefts have evolved in sophistication over the past four to five years. 
  • Organized cargo theft rings now operate with higher sophistication levels.

Danny Ramon of Overhaul:

  • Pre-pandemic, Q1 was typically a slow period for cargo thefts.
  • Post-pandemic, theft activity continues into the new year without the usual slowdown.

Frank Matarazzo of Fusion Transport:

  • 2023 saw unprecedented levels of cargo theft attempts.
  • Organized and strategic impersonations of legitimate carriers have increased.
  • Rising number of bad actors with slim chances of being caught.

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