NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The CBS 11 News I-Team has learned the driver of an 18-wheeler, involved in a police chase that many viewers watched live on CBS 11 and CBSDFW.COM, may have been trying to get away with a load of cabbage and lettuce.
Troopers are now questioning 60-year-old David Arnold. They want to know why he left California headed for Maryland and ended up here in North Texas.
Several sources tell the I-Team this is a case of cargo theft. Produce is among many products typically targeted. Lumber, prescription drugs, electronics, and meat are others.
“A lot of the products that are stolen are later sold on the black market,” explains Fred Lohman, the Director of Operations at the National Insurance of Crime Bureau in Irving.
Lohman says the loads are typically stolen by organized criminals who find distracted drivers at truck stops; however, sometimes it’s drivers themselves that go astray.
The NICB worked with the Texas Department of Public of Safety and other investigators during the 18-wheeler pursuit. They suspect the driver in this incident had planned to sell the cabbage and lettuce. It’s a hot commodity and one that could lead to potential health risks.
“You typically find these things for sale on eBay sites,” Lohman explained. “They may be taken to flea markets and mom-and-pop type stores.” Investigators warn that criminals don’t typically follow temperature, safety and sanitary regulations.
In late 2015, the FDA issued a warning about baby formula stolen out of Beaumont. Just days before that theft, children and adult vitamins were stolen from a tractor trailer.
FreightWatch International, which tracks cargo theft incidents, reports Texas, Florida, Georgia and California have the highest number of cargo theft cases in the nation. The NICB says the Dallas-Fort Worth area is the region with the highest number right now.
Texas recently passed a law toughening the penalty for cargo theft. Other states are working to do the same.
The FDA, FBI and other agencies continue to send out alerts about the rising risks of the crime. Lohman estimates the offenses result in yearly losses of between $10 billion and $25 billion.
(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)