One of the biggest problems in commercial trucking is also one of the least reported. Cargo theft is a $15 to $30 billion problem, according to the FBI. The numbers appear to be only going up as thieves target consumable products that can’t easily be tracked – although to many thieves, any cargo is good cargo.
Cargo theft is a big threat to the commercial trucking industry, suppliers, and consumers. Understanding how it occurs and what you can do to prevent it helps everyone.
How Cargo Theft Occurs
Years ago, most cargo theft occurred primarily at truck stops. Thieves would break the seals on trailers until they found something worth stealing. In some cases, this still happens. A more common method these days is to focus on shipping facilities. The location where the goods leave and arrive is kept under surveillance. Thieves track the arrival and departure times of trucks, and in some cases, trucks will be followed to establish the route patterns.
Once they have the information they want, they have several methods for stealing the cargo. They may wait until a truck and trailer are left unattended. They may target a dropped trailer. Sometimes they approach drivers and pay them to abandon their trucks. Regardless of how they get their hands on a truck and trailer, they usually have their own warehouse to handle and distribute the cargo they’ve stolen.
How to Prevent Cargo Theft
There is no one method to prevent cargo theft. You’re going to need a multi-pronged approach to avoid theft or to recover product after a theft occurs.
- Use GPS tracking tools, like Gorilla Safety, on trucks and trailers. This will give you a vehicle’s location at any point.
- Utilize geo-fencing when possible. This will send you an alarm if your truck travels outside of an authorized route.
- Use king pin locks to prevent the truck and trailer from being separated.
- Air brake valve locks will prevent the brake from being released.
- Glad hand locks will lock the trailer’s air line.
- Drivers should keep their eyes open at all times and be aware of their surroundings. Report suspicious activity.
- Drivers should avoid parking on the side of the highway whenever possible. Many truck stops have beefed up security measures over the years but there’s no such security in the middle of a lonely highway.
The best way to prevent cargo theft is for everyone to be aware of the potential dangers out on the road, during pick up, and during delivery. Drivers should be encouraged to report problems and carriers need to take preventative measures to prevent theft from happening. Working together, drivers, carriers, and shipping facilities can avoid cargo theft.