Truck load robbery

Los Angeles, CA, US: Last week a truck driver collected an 11-tonne load of crab from New Sound Transportation in Los Angeles but failed to make the delivery. The load of Russian king crab was worth $400,000 (£243,000).

The driver’s documents, as well as his trucking company, appear to have been bogus, fashioned by a well-organized fraud ring.

“We had an insurance guy tell us that guys who did this were just plain professionals to make a full load of crab disappear,” says Jerry Benzel, a dispatcher for New Sound Transportation, the Western Washington company that contracted with the truck driver to deliver the shipment.

Benzel said the trucker’s insurance, driver’s license and other documents initially appeared to be legitimate. The driver was last heard when he reported mechanical difficulties with his truck. When the load failed to show up in Seattle, New Sound investigated the driver and his documents and uncovered the fraud, saysBenzel.

“This is not uncommon,” says Ben Kozloff, co-owner of International Seafoods Venture in Seattle, which expected to receive the shipment and then buy the crab.

Seafood.com News reported the crab theft in its online daily newsletter. The newsletter published the lot numbers of the stolen crab in an attempt to alert potential buyers. King crab prices this year have reached a record high, so this was a tempting load. If it were repackaged into new boxes, it would be nearly impossible to trace, according to John Sackton, editor of Seafood.com News.

It is unclear whether the trucker who stole the load knew in advance about the valuable contents of his haul. New Sound Transportation, when it seeks truck contractors, posts notices that detail where things need to be shipped and the dates of delivery, but it does not disclose the contents of the cargo, Benzel says.

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