Cargo thieves are always searching for their next target. They are looking for what they can easily get and sell quickly. Fleets can help take the target off their trucks by being security minded and knowledgeable about commodities and locations thieves are attacking. Your answers to the following questions can help you determine the threat level your fleet may be at for targeted theft.
Do you have good in-transit security? Your fleet may be a target if your trailers are not locked or are only secured with a plastic seal. Thieves survey gas stations, truck stops, warehouses, etc looking for weak security that they may quickly bypass. The ENFORCER® line of products are heavy duty and provide effective protection against forcing, drilling, picking and vandalism. Trailer door options for good in-transit security include the Adjustable Door Lock or the hasp and padlock assembly. Both of these security devices include ABLOY® padlocks with case hardened boron steel shackles.
Do you pick up containers from ports or rail yards? Increases in theft activity around major intermodal hubs were significant in 2022. Idle container shipments are far easier for criminals to pilferage then one in motion. Ports in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Georgia are current hot spots for theft. According to CargoNet data, “Theft in Georgia increased by 34% year-over-year, due in part to organized crime groups that took advantage of increased traffic to the Port of Savannah. Georgia shut down a state task force to investigate cargo theft in 2020.” Illinois and Memphis have rail yards that have also been targeted by thieves in recent years.
Does your fleet drive through high theft states? “California remained the top state for reported events in 2022 and theft in the state increased 41% year-over-year,” according to CargoNet’s 2022 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis. Theft around Los Angeles and the Inland Empire is well documented and fleets traveling through this area should remain especially vigilant. Texas and Florida were the second and third most targeted states for cargo theft last year.
Are you hauling targeted commodities? Evaluate what kind of commodities you’re hauling and whether or not they match current cargo theft trends. “Household items were the most stolen commodity in 2022. This is a diverse category that includes appliances and furniture which often get targeted during long haul and final mile distribution. Household items were closely followed by electronics. Additionally, theft of televisions and other displays nearly doubled from 2021,” CargoNet reported.
Theft of food and beverage products also grew due to supply chain and scarcity issues. Food and beverage products are difficult to trace and are easy to sell, making these items very attractive to thieves. Fleets utilizing seals to ensure tampering has not occurred should strongly consider the ENFORCER Seal Guard Lock which protects the seal and secures the swing doors.
Do you have layered security in place at your warehouse/distribution center? Oftentimes cargo thieves have the ability to survey a property undetected. They learn schedules and patterns of the fleet and look for weaknesses they can take advantage of. Good lighting and fencing can help protect your equipment and cargo. Secure dropped trailers with a heavy duty King Pin Lock and a Landing Gear Lock. Also, have drivers ready to go when they pick up a load. Drivers should be prepared to drive 200 to 250 miles right after loading to get out of the “red zone” where cargo thieves like to hit.
Cargo theft can occur at any time. Keeping your answers to these questions top of mind when reviewing security plans and protocols can help keep your fleet stay secure on the road.
Cargo theft bounced from “High” to “Extreme” on CargoNet’s Cargo Theft Threat Level indicator at the end of 2022. So far in 2023 it has stayed in the “High” or “Extreme” category. What’s driving the surge in cargo theft?
Holidays: The end of year holidays are traditionally a time cargo thieves strike. More freight tends to be moving and in-demand gifts are targeted. Trucks are often left unattended during the holiday season and warehouses/distribution centers are closed or running on shortened hours, allowing thieves additional time to steal or pilferage.
Scarcity and Cost Driving Illicit Market Demand: Many consumer items have become hard to get or their cost has risen substantially due to inflation. Cargo thieves target these types of items knowing there is a market for a quick sale after the theft has occurred. Currently we are seeing this happen to higher cost food items such as meat as well as electronics including computer graphics cards.
Fleets and Drivers Without a Plan: Benjamin Franklin's quote: “By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail” is accurate in the security industry. Those without a layered security plan in place to prevent theft may find themselves scrambling after an event occurs. Plan ahead by making sure parking for trips is secured and layers of security are in place to protect the equipment and load.
Theft Activity at Major Intermodal Hubs: According to CargoNet’s 2022 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, “California remained the top state for reported events in 2022 and theft in the state increased 41% year-over-year. Computer and green energy components were some of the most frequently stolen items of the year and California is a major logistics hub for these items. Theft in Georgia increased by 34% year-over-year, due in part to organized crime groups that took advantage of increased traffic to the Port of Savannah.”
Shrinkage in Cargo Theft Task Forces: Many states have reduced or shut down their task force focused on cargo theft. Those that have remained now have fewer resources leading to less manpower to investigate theft and organized crime groups.
Fictitious Cargo Pickups: Fictitious pickups are a highly specialized, internet-based form of cargo theft that requires skill in document forgery. The fraud occurs when a thief subcontracts the shipment to a legitimate motor carrier and then has the shipment misdirected to another address. According to CargoNet’s 2022 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, “CargoNet recorded 96 more fictitious pickups in 2022 compared to the year prior, a 600% increase year-over-year.“
What can fleets do to protect cargo and equipment?
Utilize Heavy Duty Physical Security: Depending on the type of semi-trailer you or your fleet own, there are various security devices to prevent theft and pilferage. ENFORCER products include ABLOY® heavy duty padlocks and security devices that incorporate ABLOY lock cylinders or padlocks. ABLOY locks function reliably in extreme environments and allow for various master keying systems.
Multiple locks should be used to secure cargo and equipment. To prevent break-ins and pilferages of swing door trailers seek a robust lock such as the ENFORCER Adjustable Lock or hasp and padlock assembly. If you have a roll up door trailer several options are available including the CargoGuard which completely covers and protects the handle and padlock assembly from pry bar or cutting tools. To prevent unauthorized hook up to dropped trailers, consider a king pin lock. To secure an unattended truck, utilize an easy to install Air Cuff Lock.
Install Warehouse/Distribution Center Security: According to CargoNet’s 2022 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, the top targeted location for theft was Warehouse/Distribution Centers. Install a full-perimeter fence around your location to protect any equipment or goods that are stored outdoors. Electric fences are a good deterrent to stop theft and should be considered. Add surveillance cameras as an additional layer.
Implement Driver Education: Theft can be reduced by educating drivers on current theft statistics and trends. Providing drivers with information on where theft is occurring and safe parking locations is becoming increasingly important. Consider joining industry organizations that provide details on where and how thefts are occurring. In addition, educate your drivers to not discuss the load they are hauling or other route information at truck stops, etc. Additionally, drivers should remain in contact with dispatch if they are stopped somewhere with an increased likelihood of cargo theft.
Mitigate Fictitious Cargo Pickups: According to CargoNet, “Logistics brokers and shippers can help prevent fictitious cargo pickups by verifying any bids on shipments with the motor carrier through their contact information on file with the FMCSA and verifying the name of the motor carrier and driver matches who the shipment was tendered to. Motor carriers should be wary of new customers that offer payment through peer-to-peer money transfer apps if their business would haul a blind shipment delivering to an address different from the bill of lading, especially if the address is a public warehouse or cross-dock in California.”
Indications are cargo theft will remain elevated in 2023. Be proactive in protecting your equipment and cargo.
Layered Approach to Cargo Security
Cargo security professionals often recommend a layered security approach to reduce thefts, but what does that mean? There are various solutions to protecting goods and equipment in transit and at rest. Security minded companies utilize multiple solutions, therefore having several layers of security in place. Below are six examples of security layers fleets should consider especially as cargo theft continues to rise.
GPS: Permanent or portable GPS tracking devices can be used to prevent theft and, if needed, quickly recover stolen assets. Choose a reliable solution that can be easily monitored with location information quickly accessible. Consider using geo-fencing when the truck or trailer is parked to be alerted when unauthorized movement occurs.
Locks: Utilize heavy duty, high quality locks on trucks and trailers. Depending on the type of semi-trailer you or your fleet own, there are multiple security devices to prevent theft and pilferage. ENFORCER products include ABLOY® heavy duty padlocks and security devices that incorporate ABLOY lock cylinders or padlocks. ABLOY locks function reliably in extreme environments and allow for various master keying systems.
Multiple locks should be used to secure cargo and equipment. To prevent break-ins and pilferages of swing door trailers seek a robust lock such as the ENFORCER Adjustable Lock or hasp and padlock assembly. If you have a roll up door lock, the ENFORCER Roll Up Door Lock is a high quality solution. To prevent unauthorized hook up to dropped trailers, consider a king pin lock, landing gear lock or glad hand lock. To secure an unattended truck, utilize an easy to install Air Cuff Lock.
Lighting: According to CargoNet’s 2021 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, the top targeted location for theft was truck stops. Drivers should stop at truck stops with floodlights and park near or under those lights. Parking in a well-lit location will make it harder for a thief to steal or pilferage a trailer unseen. Pre-planning the routes and stops can help ensure drivers are parked at safe stops.
Fencing: The second most targeted location for theft according to CargoNet’s 2021 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, was Warehouses/Distribution Centers. Install a full-perimeter fence around your location to protect any equipment or goods that are stored outdoors. Electric fences are a good deterrent to stop theft and should be considered. Add surveillance cameras as an additional layer.
Driver education: Theft can be reduced by educating drivers on current theft statistics and trends. Providing drivers with information on where theft is occurring and safe parking locations is becoming increasingly important. Consider joining industry organizations that provide details on where and how thefts are occurring. In addition, educate your drivers to not discuss the load they are hauling or other route information at truck stops, etc.
Escort Services: Escort services are a separate car that trails a high value load as extra protection. They help to plan out required stops and are an extra set of eyes when the driver needs to leave the truck and trailer. Escort services help ensure a delivery gets to it intended destination safely and securely.
To have a strong cargo security program, fleets should review their current security layers and consider adding any of the above if they are not being utilized at this time. These layers can help mitigate theft and costly disruptions to your supply chain.
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Cargo theft occurs year round, but the threat rises during peak season as the volume of goods being shipped increases. Many companies bring in additional trucks, trailers and/or portable storage units to handle the additional cargo. During peak season, merchandise such as electronics, household goods and food and beverages that can be quickly resold are targeted. Through proper planning, fleets can protect the extra freight and equipment utilized during this time. Below is your guide to a secure peak season:
Flatbed Fleet Security
Flatbed carriers haul a wide variety of cargo. Fleets protecting that cargo from theft require different solutions than those hauling goods in an enclosed trailer. While there are no rear or side doors to protect, flatbed fleets do have some of the same security vulnerabilities, including unattended trucks and dropped trailers. All heavy duty trailers require various layers of security to protect them – physical hardware such as padlocks and other locking devices are one of these layers.
Secure unattended truck: Unattended trucks can be protected by parking in a well-lit location where it is more difficult for a thief to steal a tractor unseen. According to CargoNet’s 2021 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis, the top targeted location for theft was truck stops. The ENFORCER® Air Cuff® Lock is a proven security device to protect unattended tractors. Constructed of high impact resistant polycarbonate material, the lock completely covers and locks the dash mounted air valve levers to prevent the truck and trailer brakes from being released. This lock is an additional layer of security for trucks that are unoccupied, parked or idle. The unit is portable and easy to install with no drilling or permanent installation parts required. An ABLOY® heavy duty lock cylinder is included. The cylinder keyway face spins freely to prevent drill bits from penetrating the lock. Air Cuff Lock #3000 fits most trucks. The Air Cuff Lock #3030 has an angled back to fit the dashboard on International ProStar trucks and other models. This is an affordable security device to thwart flatbed theft. Consider outfitting your fleet with this lock to prevent cargo theft and a loss of equipment that is currently difficult to replace.
Secure dropped flatbed trailer: Whether your flatbed trailer is being dropped at a jobsite or another location, make sure it is protected from an unauthorized hook up. There are a variety of lock options to protect a dropped flatbed trailer such as the King Pin Lock, Landing Gear Lock and Glad Hand Lock. The ENFORCER King Pin Lock is made of solid cast steel alloy. This heavy duty options covers and locks the king pin to prevent unauthorized trailer hook ups. An ABLOY® high security lock cylinder is integrated into the lock. A second option is the Landing Gear Lock. The Landing Gear lock is a heavy gauge high carbon steel lock box that covers and locks the landing gear handle. When in the locked position, the handle cannot raise or lower the landing gear. The third option is the Glad Hand Lock. The Glad Hand Lock (also known as the Trailer Air Brake Lock) is designed to completely cover the glad hand mounting bolts to secure the trailer brake lines from unauthorized tampering. This prevents flatbed trailers from being moved. The lock installs quickly and easily with a high security push button locking cylinder. The Glad Hand Lock can also be used for lockout/tagout purposes as well.
Secure chains, headache racks and sides boxes: In addition to locking your tractors and trailers, be sure to utilize high security padlocks where necessary. Secure chains, headache racks and side boxes with a heavy duty ABLOY padlock. The ENFORCER ABLOY lineup of padlocks includes various sizes including a shrouded option. Each padlock uses a series of disc tumblers that function like the tumblers in a bank safe. Only the correct key turned 90 degrees will align the discs and gates. The key can only be removed by reversing it to a stop that automatically rescrambles the discs. These heavy duty padlocks are designed for all weather and rugged conditions.
Unattended trucks and dropped flatbed trailers can be targeted by thieves. Flatbed trailers are often carrying valuable construction equipment or materials. These items are attractive to thieves because they can be resold easily as demand is high and supply low. Conduct security training and coaching for your drivers to make sure they know how to properly protect their trucks and flatbed trailers against this threat. Adding an additional layer of security can protect your equipment and reputation.