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Container thefts costing millions

Thieves who swipe shipping containers for remodelling into ware-houses and homes, have cost the shipping industry millions of dollars, industry officials say.

Container thefts costing millions
08 September 2006 - 20:34

Container thefts costing shippers millions

Susan Gordon, Business Reporter

Thieves who swipe shipping containers for remodelling into ware-houses and homes, have cost the shipping industry millions of dollars, industry officials say.
Two companies, Zoukie's Trucking and Seaboard, have reported losses of at least $25 million in two years, and others are also believed to have wracked up big bills, although their specific figures were not immediately available.
Most of the containers and equipment were stolen from consignees after being cleared from the ports of Kingston.
President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) Michael Bernard, who this week issued a joint advisory with the Port Trailer Haulage Association, warning consignees to be wary, says he fears that the shipping lines will make it a condition that consignees come to the wharf to collect their goods, if the situation escalates.
Though Bernard did not make the link, that situation would have implications for increased congestion at the already busy port, and could cut into the business of haulers who deliver consignments.
He told the Financial Gleaner, that container thefts have increased significantly over the past few months as real estate prices soar and construction booms.
Residential premises
The SAJ and PTHA statement Tuesday advised consignees to protect their containers and equipment when they are stored overnight at commercial or residential premises in Kingston.
"With the pricing of houses going out of reach, some people see it an opportunity to steal them," said Bernard.
A secondhand container, he said, costs US$3,500 to US$5,000 ($231,000 to $330,000). "These things act as storage vehicles with so much construction taking place. That's what we are picking up out there," he said.
Bernard says insuring the containers seems the best way to handle the losses, but as a key insurance company explained, cover is hard to come by.
"It's a huge risk," said a represen-tative of the insurance company, who asked not to be identified.
"Containers are hauled by a truck and if we don't have your motor policy, we wouldn't want to insure it."
Policy for goods
But even where it does cover the hauler under a policy for goods in transit, the container would only be insured for roughly five per cent of its value, said the company, with an excess of five to 10 per cent applied against claims.
A victim of the ongoing theft, John Anthony 'Zoukie' Marzouca, owner of Zoukie's Trucking, told the Financial Gleaner he had lost "about 20 chassis over the last two years" - amounting to losses of $10 million per year.
Marzouca said when his trucks are left at consignees' residences overnight, other trucks tow them away.
"They sell them and people out there buy them," said Marzouca.
The trailer chassis alone is valued at about J$700,000 each, he said.
Shipping agent, Seaboard Freight, says it loses three to four containers per year valuing $1.3 million.
"We lease a lot of the boxes from leasing companies and when containers go missing, we get billed for the depreciated value of the container," said equipment control supervisor at Seaboard, Devon McDonald.
McDonald said it is often difficult to recover the money from the truckers, when containers go missing while in possession.
- susan.gordon@gleanerjm.com

Source. www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20060901/business/business6.html

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