Pending cargo theft bills will impose harsher penalties for crimes

New cargo theft bills have been proposed in Mississippi and New Mexico to deter thieves from stealing container, rail, and truck freight with more severe penalties and fines.

Cargo theft is a major concern within the logistics industry, as the total cost of stolen goods is on the rise year-to-year and the methodology of thieves continues to evolve.  In the United States and Canada, 2016 cargo theft total loss was valued at $114 million from 836 recorded incidents.

According to CargoNet, the three most targeted states last year were California, Texas, and New Jersey.  Absent was 2015’s third most besieged state, Georgia, were cargo theft reduced by 64%.  The dramatic decline in activity is largely due to the state’s Cargo Theft Act, which imposed prison sentences of 10 to 30 years, and fines ranging from $100,000 to $1 million based on freight value and commodity stolen.

Mississippi’s bill, HB722, which aims to deter cargo theft with harsher penalties based on the value of goods stolen, was advanced to the House by the Judiciary B Committee on February 1st.

The bill proposes that theft of controlled substances and pharmaceuticals would carry maximum fines of $1 million and/or up to thirty years in prison.  There is also a provision that addresses tampering with the fifth wheel, that could result in $100,000 in fines and/or a ten-year prison sentence.

New Mexico’s bill, SB74, sponsored by Republican Senator, Jim White, was forwarded to the Senate Public Affairs Committee on February 17th.  The bill aims to establish cargo theft as a secondary felony offense with a significant penalty.  Thieves would face fines that would cover the fair market value of goods and the cost of recovery.  They would also face a sentence of up to nine years in prison.

Related Articles:

February 15-21 Cargo Theft Reporting Summary

Cargo theft bills advance in Mississippi and New Mexico