The best cargo thieves are expert planners. They are patient and precise and pull off million-dollar heists without pulling a gun. They strike nearly anywhere cargo moves rest stops, parking lots, warehouses.
Two weeks ago, bandits made off with 18 tons of Crisco from a tow lot in St. Petersburg. At first it was funny. Who needs $100,000 worth of shortening? But the FBI calls cargo theft a $30 billion a year problem, a sobering economic hit that can translate to higher retail prices.
"Cargo theft is a much bigger issue in America than anyone really believes," said Marion County sheriffs Detective Erik Dice, a member of a statewide theft task force.
The thieves particularly like Florida. The state accounted for nearly a quarter of the countrys reported cargo thefts between March and May, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.