By Jack Roberts @JackRobertsCCJ on February 21, 2014
Beyond employee education, preventive spec’ing of both power units and trailers is critical. “There are a lot of things you can do to make it tougher on the criminals,” such as modifying trailers in a variety of ways to make them tougher nuts to crack, says Carl Tapp, a retired maintenance director for P.A.M. Transportation, who now runs Solutions Advocates. “A lot of it depends on your budget,” he says.
Many measures can be carried out in a fleet’s shop by its own technicians, who can install a wide array of security measures such as satellite-controlled stainless-steel locking pins on the inside trailer doors, huck-bolted door hardware and frames, horizontal pins in the rear trailer bolster to reinforce the doors, aluminum roofs instead of translucent plexiglass, and brightly painted undercoating to help inspectors spot breaches in the trailer floor.
What you can teach your drivers to do on the road to prevent becoming a cargo theft victim, such as not talking about their loads, and what they should do if they think they're being ...
Communication is vital to combating theft, and today’s technology makes tracking shipments and reacting to issues easier and timelier. Tapp urges fleets to look into both passive and active communications systems between the truck and the home office – technologies that Prime also values.
“You have more virtual eyes and ears out there on the road than ever before,” says Nick Erdmann, business development manager for Transport Security Inc. “When you look at all the systems available to fleets today – things like real-time communication, telematics and geofencing and monitoring systems for both trucks and trailers – they have more tools to help them fight theft than ever before.”
But one of the most effective anti-theft tools Boehning has seen is a much more obvious low-tech method: a professional-grade padlock on the trailer doors. “I’m constantly amazed at how many unlocked trailers I see running down the roads today,” he says. “Our number-one thing is our trailers are always locked, even if they’re hauling air.”
Tapp agrees that seal integrity is vital. If a seal has to be broken for repairs or a police check, establish procedures so that everybody knows about it. Record the numbers of both the seal that came off and its replacement, Tapp says.
Fleets also should consider reaching out to and nurturing partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the country. Walt Fountain, director of safety and enterprise security for Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider National, advises fleets to attend one of several regional cargo theft prevention conferences where they can learn ways to improve their anti-theft measures and training and build a nationwide network for law enforcement assistance.
Above all, Tapp urges fleets not to be complacent about combating theft. “Crooks are smart,” he says. “No matter what you do, they’re going to figure out a way to defeat it. It’s a constant process, and you can never let up.”
Tapp also reminds fleets of an entirely different reason why drivers are a key element to consider when fighting cargo theft. “I hate to say this, but I think a lot of cargo theft cases are inside jobs,” he says. “Treat your drivers right. They do a tough job day in and day out. If you acknowledge that and pay them a fair wage, they’re going to be less likely to steal from you.”
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By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
If a Georgia state lawmaker gets his way, the punishment for truck, rail or container cargo thieves would be stiffened.
Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, introduced a bill that he calls tough on crime and business friendly. It would establish cargo theft as a specific offense and impose escalating fines and punishment based on the value of goods or controlled substances stolen.
Duncan said the state was identified as one of the top three states for cargo theft in 2013. Reasons cited are the interstate system and the Savannah Port.
“That’s not something we want to be part of our business environment,” Duncan told Land Line. “The bill is as much about deterring folks from committing the crime as being a business-friendly piece that allows people to rest assured.”
Offenders who steal cargo from trucks loaded with controlled substances, or pharmaceuticals, valued at less than $10,000 would face up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $100,000.
Theft of controlled substances valued up to $1 million could result in as much as 25 years behind bars and/or fines up to $1 million. Loads valued in excess of $1 million could result in prison terms as long as 30 years and/or fines up to $1 million.
Violators of other property heists valued as much as $1,500 would face misdemeanor charges. Theft of cargo valued as high as $10,000 would result in 10 years behind bars and/or fines up to $100,000. Stolen loads valued up to $1 million could result in 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $1 million.
Another provision in the bill covers fifth wheels, and any antitheft locking device attached to the fifth wheel. Any attempt to alter, move or sell a fifth wheel could result in 10-year prison terms and/or $100,000 fines.
OOIDA Director of Security Operations Doug Morris said the punishments sought are a good indication that officials in the state are serious about curbing cargo theft.
“They’re getting hit left and right down there. The penalties sought are pretty stiff, which is good,” Morris said. “It would definitely stop a lot of theft from occurring.”
The bill is also intended to help clear up any jurisdictional concerns. It specifies that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation would have jurisdiction on cargo theft.
Duncan says cargo theft hurts everyone. He points out that all consumers pay a few dollars extra here and there because of revenue lost from cargo theft.
“The theft of commercial cargo disrupts the stream of commerce. It affects so many things downstream whether it’s the flow of cargo, missed shipments, the assembly line, and on.”
Morris said the stiffer punishment is a step in the right direction to help protect truck drivers and their property. He also has said that there is a need to provide truckers with safe places to park to address this issue.
HB749 is in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
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