This holiday season, shipping backlog and supply chain issues are spelling disasters for ports. 

Several news reports detail a growing number of shipments stuck at sea due to supply chain issues, leading to concerns of holiday shipments not arriving on time. CBS reports container ships are crowding ports, from New York to Los Angeles, where more than 250,000 containers are floating off the coast waiting to be unloaded. Cargo from Asia is also being diverted to ports in other parts of the country.

These supply chain woes have hampered industries around the U.S., contributing to an increase in consumer prices and empty retail shelves, which has put pressure on companies as well as state and federal governments to find a solution. Christmas tree prices, for instance, have surged as sellers deal with supply chain issues, also fueled by extreme weather impacts such as floods, fires, smoke and drought.

In November, the Port of Los Angeles announced it would run its operations 24/7; however, a lack of truck drivers and nighttime warehouse employees have posed obstacles for the round-the-clock schedule. President Joe Biden has said he’d like to see the ports operating 24 hours a day to relieve growing backlogs in the global supply chains that deliver critical goods to the U.S.

Congested container yards have led to an increase in reported cargo thefts. According to CargoNet, roughly $45 million in cargo thefts have been reported through September. CargoNet predicts that theft activity will remain elevated, and containers holding electronics and household goods will continue to be large targets for criminals. 

Unfortunately, this means facilities without a full security staff are incredibly vulnerable, experts say. “The backlog at ports not only creates a rise in consumer prices and empty retail shelves, but along the west coast it has made ports a hotbed for burglaries, and more than $5 million worth of goods have been stolen in “supply-chain thefts” in the third quarter alone,” says David Weingot, CEO of DMAC Security. “This is a major issue as thefts will continue to rise, and economically, it could put many businesses out of business due to their products being sold on the black market. Experts believe that there continues to be a large target on containers holding electronics and household goods, which, unfortunately, means facilities without a full security staff are incredibly vulnerable.”


Regarding preventing supply chain thefts at ports this holiday season, Weingot says port operators must take a proactive versus reactive approach to crime, emphasizing early detection and prevention. “This requires intelligence sharing and coordination between law enforcement agencies, internal port security departments, private security firms, and the companies utilizing the shipping facilities. By working together with organized efforts, these stakeholders can help reduce losses resulting from criminal activity this holiday season.”


Private security services can step in and bridge the gap, Weingot notes. “Whether it’s armed or unarmed guards, loss prevention specialists, foot patrols, concierge service, or all of the above, these professionals can help identify weak spots and implement a security plan that ensures the port does not become a conduit of criminal activity.”


Lastly, Weingot says, a high-quality security partner can provide peace of mind that guards are up-to-date on their training and best practices. “This includes tactics such as conflict de-escalation and resolution, and they can also help identify and mitigate a plethora of risks. For example, while containers are an obvious target for attack, they should not be the only area of focus. Other areas of port security such as video surveillance, access control, and practical limitations due to infrastructure must be seriously considered.”