By Kevin Bissett
THE CANADIAN PRESS
FREDERICTON _ A national cargo theft reporting program that started as a pilot program in Quebec and Ontario is being expanded to the rest of the country, starting with Atlantic Canada.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada, the RCMP, and the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association are joining forces to run the program in the region.
“We’ve been running this program in Ontario and Quebec for over two years, and just with the information that we’ve been receiving through that part of the program _ which is why we’re taking it nationwide _ we’re seeing the results,” said Amanda Dean, Atlantic vice-president with IBC.
The program will be expanded to western Canada later this year.
Dean said that cargo theft has historically often gone unreported, but encouraging reporting by trucking companies and information from the public can have a major impact.
Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association said often trucking companies wouldn’t report cargo thefts because of concerns of how it would affect their reputation or insurance.
But he said the companies now understand the need to work together to try to curb the crimes.
“The value of goods by theft represents $5 billion in Canada with tens of millions in Atlantic Canada,” Picard said.
“It’s a growing problem, and one that affects our economy, our local businesses, our carriers, our drivers and our livelihood.”
Recently a truck stolen from Moncton was found the next day in Quebec, emptied of its $50,000 cargo.
Picard said it’s clear that organized crime is involved in the thefts.
“These crimes are very well thought out and individuals know very well what is in the trailer, and there is a network to distribute the goods,” he said.
Under the new program, once a theft is reported, the information is distributed to police agencies and border officials in both Canada and the United States, along with all the trucking associations in the region in an effort to detect the movement of stolen goods.
RCMP Chief Supt. Wayne Gallant said New Brunswick is a gateway to major markets.
“There is the potential for thieves to target cargo vehicles on our highways and other transport routes,” he said.
“We must do as much as we can to discourage criminals from viewing this type of crime as an easy opportunity.”