The cost of food cargo theft has nearly tripled to around £700million in just over a decade, as criminals seek "low risk, high reward" heists, according to a vehicle crime expert. A government study found the cost of freight crime to the UK economy was around £250million in 2011.

But with inflation sending the value of food and drink soaring, criminals are increasingly targeting goods while in transit, or waiting to be transported from ports or warehouses.

Traditional heists such as robbing a bank or a post office are considered too high risk, with crooks now looking to hijack loads on HGVs parked overnight in low security lay-bys and industrial estates.

A lack of lorry parking capacity in the UK has left drivers vulnerable as they sleep, with thieves slashing side curtains, cutting holes into trailer roofs, or tampering with seals to steal their precious cargo.

Recent thefts include 200,000 Cadbury's Creme Eggs, worth £40,000, from an industrial estate in Telford and £5,000-worth of Filippo Berio olive oil from a lorry in a lay-by near Doncaster.

Research carried out by the British Standards Institution has found that food and drink accounted for 17 percent of cargo thefts last year, up three percent on the previous year.

And data from the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service showed there were more than 5,000 reports of freight crime in the UK last year, valued at £66million.

But the service's freight desk field intelligence officer Mike Dawber says the true cost could be up to 10 times higher.

He told The Grocer magazine: "There are hidden costs, such as insurance company costs, policing and criminal justice, retail values which can be anywhere between four and nine times the loss value, brand and reputational damage, damage to trucks and trailers, and associated costs to haulage companies.

"We're looking at about £700million per year just from cargo crime."

The Road Haulage Association says the increase in thefts has also affected the mental health of HGV drivers, making the job less attractive.

2023-03-25T18:12:14Z dg43tfdfdgfd