It takes just a few minutes, and crooks can drive off with stolen cargo and then sell it on the black market. It's happening at truck stops all over the nation with the estimated loss at $30-billion a year.
Florida is a prime target, consistently ranking at the top of the list behind only California and Texas. That's why the state's Cargo Theft Task Force was formed.
Detective Erik Dice, who works for the Marion County Sheriff's Office, is heavily involved in patrolling Interstate 75 looking for stolen merchandise.
"You could get anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few million dollars," said Dice.
Crooks are looking for an unattended trailer loaded with merchandise -- anything they can steal and sell.
"We've had loads of water, sugar, toilet paper, tobacco products, pharmaceuticals," offered Lt. William Jackson with the Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP is the lead agency on Florida's task force.
"It's organized crime and it's a business," continued Jackson. "They like the I-4 corridor. That's a very target-rich environment and the reason it is that you have a lot of distributors and big warehouses in that area."
That's why the task force is patrolling truck stops along I-4 and I-75, to catch thieves and educate drivers to protect their loads.
"It doesn't say 'stolen' on the side; it's not obvious so you have to look at the details," added Dice.
Who pays for this in the end? We all do, says Detective Dice.
"The cost of goods, everything has to be paid for somewhere. A company is in business to make money and if they lose a $100,000 load, they have to make it back. Which means it will come back to the customer."
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