$1.3 Million in Stolen Reusable Packaging and Pallets Recovered in Los Angeles – A $10 Million Annual Problem

Reusable packaging theft is back in the news, along with seven and eight figure cost impacts.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators have recovered around $1.3 million in stolen plastic containers, crates, pallets and other reusable packaging from businesses throughout the San Gabriel Valley, as reported in the Los Angeles press. One detective is quoted in the piece as saying that plastics theft costs businesses in the San Gabriel Valley $10 million per year, based on a study undertaken three years ago.

Police commented on factors related to the pallet and container thefts:

  • Many owners of reusable packaging do not have their name and contact information on the container, so the police have difficulty tracing back to the owner.
  • Larger stores may have a lack of security.
  • Smaller stores may not have space to securely store excess pallets.
  • The estimated $1.3 million represented all of the merchandise recovered by the sheriff’s department from November, 2010 to May 2011.

    Sheriff’s deputies believe that after plastic containers have been stolen and recycled, they are being formed once again into new containers for sale to local area businesses, hence the importance of working with recyclers to prevent the purchase of stolen plastics. Authorities said they had no concerns with local area recyclers, but do with some operations in neighboring cities.

    Investigations have led to six cases now opened against recycling centers found to be involved in recycling stolen plastics.

    If your business has experienced pallet and container theft, take steps to mitigate it. Report theft to authorities and consider also the ScrapTheftAlert.com network.

    Other important steps in preventing plastics theft include clear ownership markings, pallet and container control, and safeguarding of containers.

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