4th of July Holiday – Cargo Theft Trends and Prevention

semi trucks on highwayThe holidays are notorious for cargo theft and Independence Day is no exception. A national break from work creates the perfect formula for cargo theft conditions:

  • Additional crowds and traffic.
  • Lack of supervision at rest stops, refueling locations and warehouses due to employee vacations.
  • Increased distraction. 

Not surprising is the fact that trucks are the most targeted. In a global study by cargo insurer TT Club, “trucks were the overwhelming favorite target of thieves in 84% of all incidents globally.” Compared to warehouses and distribution centers that ranked a distant second at 13%, trucks are simply more vulnerable to theft. The nature of the transportation and logistics industry allows cargo thieves to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, like during holiday weekends. 

According to theft specialists cited on riskandinsurance.com, the top states for theft are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Illinois and Tennessee, because they have the largest ports, rail depots and interstate highways. They also have large population density among which the goods can be quickly distributed. 

Consumer demand will always play a significant role in cargo theft trends. According to experts, because of black market demand, the most highly targeted freight falls into these categories:

  • Food and beverage 
  • Household products 
  • Electronics 
  • Alcohol and tobacco 
  • Apparel and footwear 

Shippers and carriers must remain proactive with security measures that not only prevent theft but minimize opportunities, as well. The following cargo safety tips are broken down into two categories – shippers and carriers and represent the industry’s best practices from several reputable organizations that work in theft prevention. 

Cargo Safety Tips for Shippers:
Cargo thieves are known to assess a potential site “weeks or even months” before deciding on a target. They are also smarter, using false identities to trick shippers into giving them their cargo either through forging documents, pilferage, double-brokering or fictitious pick-ups. 

Regardless of how cargo thieves work, shippers can take precautions using the following tips:

  1. Warehouse fencing should be at least 8 feet high with barbed wire at a 45-degree angle facing out.
  2. Ensure perimeter fencing gaps are no more than 4-inches as it presents an opportunity for thieves.
  3. Fencing should be away from any structures or objects that can be used to climb over.
  4. Lighting should face outward and create a glare for an intruder.
  5. Security systems should include motion detectors and cameras, especially at all entrances and exits.
  6. Conduct regular security audits, particularly prior to major holidays like July 4th.
  7. Invest in and maintain back-up generators in the event of a power outage.
  8. Avoid weekend and after-hours delivery unless you have an established receiving procedure in place.
  9. Ensure local police departments are familiar with your facility and include it in their regular patrols.
  10. Select a reputable 3PL that has a proven track record with loss prevention strategies, including full vetting of carriers, offer real-time tracking and 24/7/365 live, in-house support in the event of an emergency.

Cargo Safety Tips for Carriers:
Unattended trucks are the most attractive to thieves, especially at truck stops and gas stations. The reality is there will always be times when a truck is unattended as the driver must leave the vehicle to refuel and refresh. The key is the steps taken prior to leaving the truck. For example: 

  1. Park in a well-lit, populated site that is always visible to you. 
  2. Request monitoring help from another driver parked nearby. 
  3. Leave your pick-up location with a full tank of fuel. 
  4. Communicate regularly with your dispatcher. 
  5. Make sure you have access to 24/7/365 support via a toll-free number. 
  6. Be aware of your surroundings both after loading and arriving at your destination. Note vehicles in the area. Most cargo theft occurs near pick-up and delivery points. 
  7. If you suspect you are being tailed, slow down and let the vehicle pass to know for sure. 
  8. Never discuss details of your load to others. 
  9. While parked, leave enough room between trucks so you cannot be blocked in by cargo thieves.

Cargo theft prevention is not a one-size fits all approach. Rather, it involves continually testing existing safety measures and adding others as trends change. It also means relying on experts, like TQL, to help mitigate risks. 

To learn more about TQL and the steps we take to keep your freight safe click here. You can also request a freight quote or call 800.580.3101 and connect with a Logistics Account Executive today.

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