How to Steer Clear of Would-Be Cargo Thieves: Tips from TQL

Cargo theft is a serious problem across the country. In our experience, these are some steps that shippers and receivers should take to protect valuable cargo.

Have a defined set-up process for new carriers or 3PLs

Sticking to a defined checklist of procedures can be your most powerful defense against loss of property and profits. When setting up a new carrier, you definitely want to do your due diligence: verify how long the carrier or 3PL has had their authority through the FMCSA. If you are doing business with a 3PL, make sure they have the newly required $75,000 surety bond. Always check references.

Additionally, make sure you understand and approve of all policies regarding carrier set up and maintenance. For example, what is the amount of the carrier’s cargo and liability insurance or what is the 3PL’s insurance requirements for its carriers? Is that enough to cover the value of the load you are putting on the truck? Are there any exclusions on the carrier’s insurance policy that you need to be aware of? Does the carrier have reefer breakdown insurance?

Finally, find out if the carrier or 3PL is affiliated with CargoNet. The purpose of CargoNet is to prevent cargo theft and increase recovery rates. They have a network of tens of thousands of police officers whom members can call upon if a load goes missing, allowing Be On the Lookout (BOLO) notices to be issued across the country, definitely giving shippers and carriers a leg-up on would-be thieves. 

Do a double-check before your load hits the open road

Once you’ve set up a new carrier, there are still some important steps you should take when a new carrier arrives at your facility to pick up their first load. This check-in process should be carried out by a member of your staff and should include things like: take a picture of the truck’s license plate; take a picture of all markings and identification numbers on the side of both the tractor and the trailer; write down the VIN number of the tractor and trailer; request a copy of the driver’s license or take a picture of the driver or install video cameras to record accurate images of the driver picking up your load.

Shippers and receivers can also consider investing in GPS tracking systems. Today’s location tracking and sensor monitoring devices can help you keep tabs on valuable cargo as well as monitor the environment inside the trailer. Another option is investing in an ID verification system. Today’s sophisticated digital tools communicate directly with the FMCSA and can even include biometric information.

Protect yourself from the more common perp: a claim

While theft is a frightening and costly issue, when it comes to stealing your hard-earned profits, proving and preventing claims should still be priority number one.  And again, there are some basic steps you can take to keep these bandits at bay. If you are shipping fresh produce or frozen items, use a temperature recorder to verify the readings. Make sure the Bills of Lading are filled out correctly and make sure you, the shipper, seals the load and records the seal number on the Bill of Lading

We all have a lot on the line every time a truck pulls away with a load. Sticking to a defined checklist of procedures can be your most powerful defense against loss of property and profits.

TQL is one of the largest freight brokerage firms in the nation, connecting shippers who have truckload freight that needs to be moved with quality carriers who have the capacity to move it. TQL works with more than 50,000 carriers across North America, giving the company access to millions of trucks to help its customers move freight efficiently and economically. TQL identifies the right trucks for particular freight loads, negotiates rates, and satisfies its customers’ delivery requirements. The company’s insistence on honest, straightforward communications and 24/7/365 operations minimizes missed shipments, delays, and product shortages on store shelves. 


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