A Crime That Pays Too Well?

Six members of an alleged organized crime group called "The Corporation" were arrested this week in New Jersey, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin.

Police say they were involved in cargo theft, one of the hottest crime trends plaguing the country.

Stealing merchandise off of trucks is considered a property crime, and it is rarely punished by jail. That may be one reason why cargo theft has become increasingly common.

In addition, the perpetrators frequently have experience in other lucrative criminal enterprises.

"Many of the cargo thieves are ex-drug dealers or ex-drug smugglers," says Gail Toth, of the American Trucking Association. "They've actually found it's a lot easier to steal freight, and there's no penalty, and they can make more money."

As far as crimes go, cargo theft is relatively easy. Thieves have devised a variety of methods: bribing truck drivers, forging paperwork and cracking open containers without a trace.

"They can get inside and get whatever they want...the next stop you won't know its broken into," says Lt. Michael Podolak of the Port Authority Police.

Skip Borghese's company lost $3 million worth of Fendi perfume just weeks before Christmas.

"What we feel happened is that false paperwork was given and false identification was given and it was just that simple..." he says.

According to the FBI, cargo theft cost businesses $6 billion last year. Detectives that investigate the crimes say consumers are paying the price.

"The price that you pay for the computer -- about $125 of that price is because of the loss of those products," says New Jersey state trooper Lt. Joe Rogalski.

Truckers and police are pushing for mandatory jail time to punish and deter cargo thieves. Anything short of that, they say, would be highway robbery.

Reported by Elizabeth Kaledin
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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