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Cargo theft is still as dangerous as ever

Cargo theft is a big concern in the industry.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Cargo theft remains a serious concern throughout the trucking industry.

The issue isn't a new one, but it still must be accounted for and guarded against. Every party in trucking needs to work together to prevent cargo from being stolen.

Cargo theft is on the rise

Cargo theft is an issue because crime statistics are on the rise. According to a study from CargoNet, as cited by Fleet Owner, 881 theft incidents were reported in 2015, an increase from the 844 thefts tallied in 2014.

"Those 881 theft incidents were the equivalent of more than $175 million being stolen."

Those 881 theft incidents were the equivalent of more than $175 million being stolen.

Cargo theft has always been a top concern in the trucking industry, but recent upticks in crime have made combating the issue even more important. Fleets and driver must first acknowledge the risk of theft and follow a few key action points to guard against it:

1. Know which areas are dangerous

The first step toward ensuring cargo theft doesn't become a serious issue is to understand which parts of the country are most susceptible to the crime. The 10 counties where this particular crime occurs most frequently are:

  • Los Angeles County, CA.
  • Dallas County, TX.
  • San Bernardino County, CA.
  • Cook County (Chicago), IL.
  • Miami-Dade County, FL.
  • Harris County (Houston), TX.
  • Tarrant County (Arlington/Fort Worth), TX.
  • Middlesex County (Edison), NJ.
  • Will County (Bolingbrook), IL.
  • Riverside County, CA.

Once dangerous counties have been identified, fleet managers and drivers have to find out specific dangerous locations:

  • Warehouse.
  • Other (not specified).
  • Parking lot.
  • Secured yard.
  • Unsecured yard
  • Side of the road.
  • Truck stops.
  • Ports of entry.
  • Drop lots.

By identifying dangerous counties and areas, drivers will know when to be extra vigilant. However, this doesn't mean truckers can let down their guard when they aren't delivering cargo to counties and areas. Drivers are only one protection layer against cargo theft. 

2. Use technology

Technology actually goes both ways in trucking. Utilizing technology will help keep the trucking industry one step ahead of thieves as they too adapt new technologies. 

Fleets should take advantage of devices to help deter theft. For example, tamper alarms can be installed and tripped if a thief is trying to steal cargo. Geo-fencing, remote paging and vibration sensors are other tools that help deter potential thieves.

Additionally, fleets should look into tracking technologies. ABI Research noted these small devices enable real-time tracking so if cargo is stolen, fleets can quickly find the goods. In a press release, ABI Research industry analyst Racquel Artes highlighted the significance of placing GPS devices on cargo.

"This is particularly suitable given the market's complex ecosystem wherein products are handled and transferred among a handful of different players and the risk of theft is high," said Artes.

Yet, technology alone won't always prevent cargo theft. Companies need to ensure all of their bases are covered.

3. Develop multilayered security approach

Fleets, carriers and shippers should develop a multilayered security approach to deter theft.

"Fleets, carriers and shippers should develop a multilayered security approach to deter theft."

A multilayered security plan is a top-down approach. An organization can get started by creating an in-house or outside risk management team. This group will help prevent thefts by ensuring security protocols are being followed but if cargo is stolen, the risk management team will help fleets can quickly respond and recover the missing cargo.

Fleets and risk management teams must also make sure a recovery network is in place. This network consists of multiple law enforcement agencies, such as local and state police departments. Clean and open lines of communication with law enforcement ensures fleets can report stolen cargo so the police can make efforts to find stolen freight.

The next layer in a security plan is employment.

Screen employees

Every employee needs to be screened, no matter if he or she is driving or working in a warehouse. The importance of background screenings can't be brushed aside because according to a survey from First Advantage, 60 percent said background checks are the first line of defense to protect organizations.

Background checks should pick up on prior violations of the law or questionable behavior. If an employee has too many question marks, he or she shouldn't be hired. When it comes to protecting cargo, fleets can never be too cautious.

The need for deterring cargo theft keeps increasing. Fleets have to stay informed of where these crimes are occurring and how to best prevent them. Knowing which locations are the most dangerous is only one step in combating cargo theft.

Fleets also need to utilize technology, employee background screens and a multilayered security approach to deter cargo theft.