In the early hours of July 11, two armed guards left their Brink’s big rig at a truck stop in Interstate-5, giving a gang of thieves a 27-minute window to make the huge snatch, its total value still a mystery.
Estimates range from $10 million to $100 million.
“We are talking multi-millions here. It is a huge amount of money,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau Sgt.
The crime didn’t match the usual definition of a heist because it did not involve a robbery so much as a stealth burglary.
Cargo theft is a massive criminal enterprise across the L.A. region with some of the biggest ports in the nation.
There were 870 cargo thefts throughout the United States in 2020, an increase of 23% compared with thefts in 2019.
CargoNet logged more than $57 million in cargo truck theft.
California remains the top state for cargo snatches but New Jersey has had more than its share.
Authorities said about $1 billion of cargo is stolen in New Jersey annually when they passed a law that reclassified truck theft as a criminal offense
New Jersey reported particularly high rates of cargo theft in the area of Port Elizabeth and Port Newark.
The law created specific criminal provisions for cargo theft, including fines for leading or organizing cargo theft networks of $250,000 for a second-degree crime, $500,000 for a first-degree offense or five times the value of property seized—whichever is greater.
It also created a new criminal offense for operating a facility to sell or store stolen cargo and set additional fines against those convicted of cargo theft to finance greater law enforcement efforts.
This measure was designated as Lieutenant Scott Jenkins’ Law, named to honor a founding member of the New Jersey State Police cargo theft unit who died of colon cancer in 2003.
The theft of trucks containing valuable cargo has other side effects, such as causing the prices of goods to go up.
The law specifies penalties of as much as $500,000 in fines and five to 10 years in prison.