Bourbon stolen from tractor-trailer in Northeast Philadelphia as driver slept in cab

Thursday, March 14, 2024
Bourbon stolen from tractor-trailer in Northeast Philadelphia as driver slept in cab
Bourbon stolen from tractor-trailer in Northeast Philadelphia as driver slept in cab

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Police are investigating after a large cargo theft out of a tractor-trailer in Northeast Philadelphia early Thursday morning.

Thieves got away with bourbon that was inside a truck parked on Caroline Road.

Investigators told Action News that they're following leads based on the cars the thieves were driving.

The theft happened around 2:30 a.m. as the driver of the truck hauling bourbon was asleep in the cab, according to police.

"The driver was awakened by the truck shaking. He saw two vehicles. A black vehicle and a white vehicle make off in the back of his trailer. His trailer was opened. There was alcohol there," said Captain Jack Ryan, with Philadelphia Police Department's Northeast Detectives Unit.

When police got to the scene, the driver of one of the cars tried to escape, hitting a police cruiser in the process. Officials said no officers were hurt but the car got away.

As officers investigated the scene, police were able to recover some of the cargo inside a car in the 2100 block of Butler Street.

They also recovered some seafood that was apparently part of a separate theft because they don't ship alcohol and seafood together.

"You might be looking at two trailers that were burglarized," Keith Lewis, the Vice President of Operations for CargoNet at Verisk, said.

CargoNet, a Verisk business, is a data-sharing system that tracks cargo theft.

The company's data shows the most popular items that are stolen fall under the food and beverage category, but Lewis says thieves target anything and everything.

"If you look at what's being stolen, it's what the consumer is demanding," he explained. "The consumer is demanding video games, headsets, energy drinks, solar panels, high-end vacuum cleaners and those are the items being stolen more than anything else."

In January, thieves took four pallets of meat from a truck in that same area of Northeast Philadelphia. It was estimated to be worth about $20,000. Another meat theft also happened in November 2023. That heist has an estimated value of $7,660.

Last October, in Kensington, a trucker also awoke to find 184 cases of crab clusters were stolen from his trailer. The crabs were valued at $73,000.

In another incident, an estimated two million dimes were stolen from a trailer in Northeast Philadelphia.

There were 100 reported cargo thefts in the city in 2019, but the data team found that number has steadily increased in the past five years. In 2023, data showed there were 257 cargo thefts in Philadelphia.

According to data from Philadelphia police, there have been 36 reported cargo thefts in the city so far this year.

CargoNet's data shows Pennsylvania is ranked in the top eight for states with the highest theft activity. Lewis attributes that to the state's highway system, and the fact many trucks need to pass through Pennsylvania to get to their destinations.

The Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association urges drivers to have situational awareness.

"Make sure you park in a safe location. Make sure to have a lock on your trailer," John Rigney, the association's safety director, said. "They do have electronic tracking devices. They can put them in the pallet of material."

Police say this theft remains under investigation.

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