‘Pallet Pirates’ are Costing Houston Companies Millions of Dollars

Plastic shipping pallets and crates are being stolen from businesses, then sold off overseas.

By Laura Rice & Rhonda FanningMay 31, 2016 12:09 pm| ,

Take a wrong turn or a shortcut down an alleyway behind a grocery or convenience store, and you’re likely to see bales of used cardboard and stacks of shipping pallets.

Those shipping pallets, specifically the plastic ones used to ship things like eggs and bottled drinks, are going missing in Houston – stolen from stores. It’s costing businesses up to $10 million a year.

The Texas Retailers Association hired Hunter Cox, a private investigator, to look into the disappearance of the pallets. He says thieves are taking pallets left outside overnight before the next day’s shippers can retrieve them.

“We call them ‘pallet pirates,’ and they’re taking them to these underground warehouses,” Cox says. “They’re shredding the plastic into small plastic pellets and shipping that plastic to China or to other countries to make new products such as Barbie dolls, picnic tables or whatever, and ship it back to the States.”

What you’ll hear in this interview:

– Why the plastic is so valuable

– The scale of the problem

– How they are cracking down on the thefts