Cliff J., Acuity's own in-house trucking specialist answers the question, "I'm concerned about truck, trailer, and cargo theft. Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk?"
In today’s world, almost everything we use or consume—food, clothing, fuel, household supplies, and more—has been on a truck at some point in its journey to us. As a matter of fact, the American Trucking Associations reported that the U.S. trucking industry had $732.3 billion in gross freight revenues from trucking, representing 80.4% of the nation’s total freight bill in 2020. This translates into 10.23 billion tons of freight hauled by trucks, representing 72.5% of total domestic tonnage shipped.
Unfortunately, all that cargo is subject to theft. And when it comes to cargo theft in the trucking industry, higher-value cargo, such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol, car parts, and electronics, are at a higher risk. Small high-value goods that are hard to track but easy to resell are of particular concern. Today, there are numerous methods employed by organized crime rings that help them target almost any type of freight. Additionally, cybercrime is an increasing form of cargo theft. An example is when a motor carrier’s identity is stolen, and the thief uses the identity to pick up a load from the shipper and drive away.
There are four key practices you can put in place to reduce the risk of loss.
Using high-tech solutions. GPS (global positioning satellite)-based tracking tools are the newest technology being used to combat cargo theft. There are numerous tracking products available designed specifically for trailers and cargo that can report on location or indicate when trailers are moved unexpectedly. Trailer monitoring systems can be used to report when trailer doors are opened or closed. GPS-based “geofencing” technology can also be used to send an alert if a truck or trailer travels outside a prescribed route, which could indicate theft.
Using low-tech solutions.The Christmas tree theft is reported to have happened because the trailers were left unsecured. Avoid leaving trailers in unsecured locations, and always use locks to protect the vehicle and cargo, such as king pin locks that prevent the tractor and trailer from being separated, air brake valve locks that prevent brake release, and glad hand locks that lock the trailer's air line. Door seals also deter thieves and create a visual alert if doors are tampered with. Keep a record of all VIN and registration information and report any thefts promptly.
Deterring employee theft. Cargo theft is often an inside job. Though the overwhelming majority of employees are honest, the best practice to deter theft is using sound pre-employment screening of drivers, warehouse staff, or anyone who has access to or control of cargo. Consider assigning team drivers to high-value shipments. Provide ongoing training and let your employees know that your company will vigorously prosecute trailer theft.
Being prepared and alert. Vigilance is essential to deterring and detecting theft. Watch for signs that your facility's operation is under surveillance, including vehicles parked nearby or people walking near trailers unexpectedly. Thieves may also wait at truck stops and maintenance and repair shops, watching for drivers who leave trucks and trailers unattended. Park in well-lit areas and back trailer doors into a dock or near a structure, if possible, to prevent them from being opened.
Unfortunately, nothing can stop all theft. However, following good safety and security practices can make your truck, trailer, and cargo assets a more difficult target and reduce your company’s losses.
Cliff J. is Acuity’s Trucking Business Segment Specialist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is provided for informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as technical, legal or other professional advice. If legal or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The information presented in this article is based on the most current information available at the time of publication.
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