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.
5 Cargo security myths
Myth: Law enforcement is available to help with cargo theft.
Unfortunately cargo theft is a low priority for many police departments. It is viewed and dealt with like a property crime. It does not receive the attention that other theft, such as smash and grabs, do. Other types of crime take precedence over theft of freight. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cargo theft is estimated to cost the U.S. $15 billion to $30 billion a year, though the true numbers may be even higher, since some businesses are hesitant to report thefts due to reputation risk. Trucking companies may be able to get recovery assistance from their insurance company, industry organizations or a private investigator.
Myth: Cargo theft is a crime of opportunity.
Cargo theft rings are increasingly more organized. Theft rings are very knowledgeable about what freight is moving where and who is moving it. They conduct surveillance on warehouses, ports, distribution centers and truck stops. They know what distributors and receivers are in certain areas. Current supply chain issues have led to trailers and containers piling up at ports and warehouses for longer durations. Cargo is also being left to sit in less secure locations. This is spurring cargo thefts nationwide as thieves have taken notice.
Cargo theft has also grown in sophistication. Thieves will falsify paperwork and other information to gain access to trucks and trailers.
Thieves do take advantage when they see an opportunity to quickly steal or pilferage a trailer though. 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. 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. Pilferage can happen to a delivery truck during a busy delivery schedule. A driver may skip locking a padlock and hasp system when they go inside to make a delivery, resulting in unlocked doors. The ENFORCER Roll Up Door Lock is a heavy duty solution to this threat. The Roll Up Door Lock automatically locks when the box truck is closed. Often times this lock is referred to as a “slam lock”. When the door is closed, the interior jaws spring open to close around the carbon steel pins in the base that is welded to the floor.
Another security option for roll up doors that locks automatically is the ENFORCER® Trailer Lock Box #8055 which is permanently installed on the trailer door. The Lock Box replaces the standard trailer latch. The end of the trailer handle is inserted in the latching lock on the #8055. Lock is spring loaded to automatically lock when the handle goes into the lock mechanism. Provides protection without the hassle of having to put on and take off a padlock at multiple stops. Both ENFORCER locks include a high security ABLOY® lock cylinder that can be keyed individually or to a master system.
Myth: Only high value freight is targeted for theft.
All types of freight can be a target of theft or pilferage. Sometimes thieves don’t know what is in a trailer before stealing it. Criminals will steal anything they believe they can sell and almost all goods are fair game. Currently electronics are the most targeted items; theft of electronics is up 34% year-over-year according to CargoNet’s 2021 Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis. Food is often targeted because it is easy to sell and the evidence is consumed. Fleets can be targeted because they aren’t utilizing high security locks. Companies should lock equipment and cargo with heavy duty locking devices. Invest in security devices that will deter criminals such as the ENFORCER Adjustable Rear Door Lock which includes an ABLOY padlock or utilize a hasp and padlock assembly. The ENFORCER King Pin Locks are heavy duty and secure dropped trailers and containers from theft while parked at terminals, distribution centers or retail stores. The King Pin includes an ABLOY lock cylinder.
Myth: Cargo theft only occurs in large cities.
While it is true that a large amount of cargo theft happens in large cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto; a growing amount of cargo theft is happening in rural areas. Rural areas are seeing an increase in theft because thieves have learned that local police departments are unable to provide much assistance. Agricultural cargo theft has increased in the past few years as well. Equipment and food items, such as nuts, have been targeted coming out of rural communities. Additionally, smaller ports are now seeing an increase in theft due to port logjams and higher amounts of cargo moving through.
Myth: Seal tampering is a cost of doing business.
Unauthorized seal tampering can be frustrating and expensive. Many types of seals are easy to compromise and trucking companies have to write-off expenses due to these instances. Receivers may reject a load due to seal compromise, costing shipper’s money and risking customer relationships. Fleets have an option to prevent seal issues. We recommend the ENFORCER Seal Guard Lock, a locking device that is permanently installed on the trailer and closes over the seal to protect the integrity of the load. The Seal Guard is available with a heavy duty ABLOY padlock.
Cargo theft continues to adapt, so we need to remain vigilant. Keep yourself and staff informed of industry trends and continue to be proactive in securing your equipment and cargo.
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.