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.
“My drivers won’t use the lock.” As a lock company, this is a common grievance we hear from security professionals. There are many tractor-trailers on the road and parked at rest areas and truck stops with unsecured cargo doors. Often cargo thieves are looking for a trailer they can break into quickly. If they see a lock installed, they are more likely to move on to the next trailer that isn't locked and can be opened in seconds. How can trucking companies ensure drivers have and use a high quality lock? The following are tactics we’ve seen implemented successfully at fleets in the past.
Provide the lock. If it is within your company’s security budget, consider providing locks to your drivers. You can create a lock program that fits your needs. We provide end-to-end security kits that include ABLOY® high security padlocks, king pin locks and Air Cuff ® Locks. Air Cuff ® Locks completely cover and lock 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. Locks can be keyed different, alike by kit or into a master system for fleet key control.
Make it company policy. Security is a priority for many top fleets. Many trucking companies have corporate policies that require drivers to lock their trailers while in transit and when parked. Our Adjustable Lock or hasp and padlock system are heavy duty options.
Delivery companies often require that trucks be locked when drivers are making a drop off or pick up. If your fleet includes delivery vehicles, consider the Roll Up Door Lock which automatically locks when the box truck or trailer door is closed. Often times this lock is referred to as a “slam lock”. The slam lock is designed specifically to eliminate driver’s time and effort needed to secure the trailer with a padlock and hasp system.
Others trucking companies require verification that a lock is in place before leaving the warehouse or distribution center. Some fleets require their drivers to show proof of purchase of a heavy duty lock while others provide locks for new hires. Whichever channel you decide for your company, be sure your policy is clear and drivers understand what is expected of them. Make sure your policy is enforceable and the consequences of noncompliance are clear.
Incentivize lock use. Consider creating a reward program for drivers that incentivizes them to use trailer and truck locks. Use drivers in your fleet to recognize when a lock is being used correctly by another one of your company’s drivers. Have them send a photo of the lock on the trailer to the company as well as the license plate or some other trailer identifier. Ensure drivers only take photos when legal and safe to do so. Get creative with prizes such as sending the driver caught using the lock correctly a gift card as recognition or conducting a monthly raffle for entries.
Educate importance of security. Use new driver training to educate on the importance of using a heavy duty lock to secure equipment. Consider providing security devices in the classroom so drivers can learn to use them correctly. Remind drivers of the importance of using a lock anytime there is cargo inside the trailer and when it is empty. Currently, it is difficult to replace stolen equipment due to a shortage of materials and labor. Stolen equipment may mean a driver is out of work for an extended period of time while a replacement is sourced.
Awareness of personal repercussions for driver. While drivers may complain about the inconvenience of having to lock their truck and trailers, the inconvenience of a theft is much greater. There can be financial losses to the drivers themselves as a result of a theft. There is the lost revenue from the current load and future loads. They also risk harming their reputation. Drivers are often interviewed by police after a theft. The police are tasked with gathering evidence to decide if the driver was part of the theft or not.
The last step in securing your fleet’s trucks and trailers is often dependent on your drivers taking the time to secure the locks. Encourage or require use of a high security locking device using the tactics outlined above. Drivers and companies ultimately benefit when security is prioritized.
Pilferage is an emerging trend in cargo theft and trucking companies are seeing it become a growing issue. Pilferage is when part of a shipment, rather than the entire shipment, is stolen. Cargo thieves have learned that breaking into a parked trailer and removing some goods is less risky than stealing the entire trailer. In CargoNet’s 2020 Supply Chain Risk Report, “Reports of cargo only theft incidents increased by 18% year-over-year - this category would consist of trailer pilferage events, fictitious pickups, and warehouse burglaries.”
Often times pilferage is difficult to detect quickly, putting time and space between the thief and the crime. While this is viewed as low risk to the thief, trucking companies are faced with economic loss from the stolen products, insurance claims and damaged customer relationships.
Data from CargoNet’s report also shows locations that experienced the highest amount of theft for the year were truck stops, parking lots and warehouses/D.C.’s. These locations are hotbeds for pilferage as trailers tend to be more accessible in these locations. Stories indicate thieves pop the trailer door seal off, grab a couple of boxes and run.
There are various strategies to prevent and minimize pilferage including driver education and communication as well as truck and trailer locks. 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. Companies are finding various ways to achieve this using technology. Drivers need to continue to be vigilant and keep in mind that, “Freight at rest is freight at risk.”
The ENFORCER® trailer locks from Transport Security, Inc. protect rear and side doors from pilferage. The ENFORCER product line includes ABLOY® high security padlocks. ABLOY lock cylinders are designed with rotating discs, like the tumblers in a bank safe, instead of the traditional springs and pins. This type of construction allows for reliable function in extreme environments as well as various master keying systems.
The ENFORCER Adjustable Trailer Lock protects the trailer or container's back door padlock from tampering. The Adjustable comes with a high security ABLOY padlock. Locks can be keyed individually or to a master system.
Also available from Transport Security is the ENFORCER Seal Guard™ Lock that protects plastic, metal, bolt or cable seals from tampering. It is permanently installed on the trailer. The lock goes over the seal and is secured with an ABLOY padlock.
Transport Security offers customized keying solutions for their products. Fleets can have locks keyed alike, different or different but to a master system with one key that can open all of the locks. Many large fleets choose to key each location or terminal to a different key code with a master key that opens locks to all locations.
As pilferage continues to be attractive to cargo thieves, trucking companies need to ensure their trailer doors are secured with a high security locking device. Most thieves won't have tools or the time to bother it.
By James Jaillet
The Transportation Security Administration has issued an internal report warning of the potential for terrorists to use trucks as weapons to conduct attacks. TSA also released a list of countermeasures, mostly involving awareness of surroundings and reporting suspicious activity, that truck owners and operators should heed to help prevent such attacks from occurring. READ ARTICLE - CCJ