Cargo theft can lead to a felony conviction

America’s supply chain of goods would not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic without the efforts of freight companies. These freight companies also continue to support retailers and distributors in the post-pandemic to ensure the supply chain never gets disrupted again.

But as freight companies ramped up their businesses in recent years, so have enterprising thieves targeting cargo. Cargo theft incidents across the U.S. have surged in recent times, with losses reaching up to $35 billion each year.

Cargo theft is so rampant that a recent report revealed that Alabama had the second-highest number of cargo thefts in America in 2021, behind only Georgia.

It also doesn’t take a band of organized criminals to steal cargo. Anyone with the right tools can break into the back of a tractor-trailer to steal the contents. Smarter individuals – or even insiders – could also pick up cargo from warehouses by forging invoices. Making off with a box or two from an unsecured cargo truck or distribution center also counts as cargo theft.

But Alabama is striking back. Anyone caught in the act of cargo theft can face severe penalties.

The penalties for cargo theft

A conviction for cargo theft generally leads to a felony on a person’s criminal record, according to state law. The penalties for cargo theft are based on the total value of the stolen items:

  • Cargo theft with a collective value over $50,000: Theft of this level is a Class B felony, with up to 20 years of imprisonment and a maximum $150,000 fine.
  • Cargo theft with a collective value between $10,000 and $50,000: A person who stole this amount faces a Class C felony on conviction. The penalties include up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $20,000 fine.
  • Cargo theft with a collective value between $500 and $10,000: This is a Class D felony, which leads to up to two years imprisonment and a maximum $20,000 fine.
  • Cargo theft with a collective value of $500 or less: A person convicted of cargo theft worth $500 or less is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. The convicted faces up to a year in jail or hard labor for the county.

In addition to these penalties, a person convicted of cargo theft may be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for one year for their first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the court can disqualify the person from driving any commercial vehicle for life.

Disrupting the supply chain is a bad idea

Cargo theft might look like a victimless crime – stealing goods from a warehouse or truck that haven’t even hit grocery shelves doesn’t sound as bad as shoplifting. But Alabama law lays out some of the most severe punishments for anyone convicted of the offense. Those facing charges will want to build a strong case to avoid a harsh sentence.

Attorney Brad Hawley

Attorney Brad HawleyAttorney Brad Hawley possesses years of practical experience focused on bankruptcy, civil and criminal defense. He has prosecuted and defended clients in state court, and is a former enlisted member of the United States Army. Brad is driven by his desire to help people that have been hurt by the legal system, and is dedicated to fixing injustices he sees around him. [ Attorney Bio ]

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