Deputies: Cargo thieves targeting products in high demand for holidays

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Authorities in Marion County say thieves are eyeing every semi truck hauling goods down Central Florida interstates.

Freight Watch International issued an alert Tuesday, warning the cargo thieves are actively targeting products in demand this holiday season.

The warning came too late for an Ocala trucker who parked his trailer at a South Pine Avenue truck stop Saturday.

Investigators said the thieves cut through the lock on the back of the trailer, only to find a pallet of popcorn inside.

"This case being a grand theft in the form of the burglary, it doesn't technically fall into the category, but it's a commercial vehicle, it is a truck stop, it is a burglary and we research it for the intelligence," said Erik Dice of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said some thieves take off with the entire truck or trailer.

In Marion County, deputies are using a bait trailer to track down crooks.

"We do conduct continuous undercover operations through the year, holidays included," Dice said.

Already this year, $5 million in commercial vehicle and cargo thefts have been reported in Central Florida.

Veteran truckers said they're being cautious.

"I keep it locked. I have a dog up in there," said trucker Roger Bailey.

With so many truck stops around the Interstate 75, Interstate 95 and Interstate 4 corridors, the deputies with the Cargo Theft Task Force anticipate they will be busy.