By Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel
Schneider, the large trucking and logistics company based in Green Bay, said Thursday that it cut cargo theft by 20% last year.
The reduction continues a trend of several years for Schneider, which has used both technology and training to address an industrywide problem.
Nationally, nearly $100 million worth of freight was stolen from trucks last year, according to Verisk Analytics Inc., a Jersey City, N.J., risk-assessment firm.
Most of the 1,090 reported incidents — down 9% from 2012 — involved theft of an entire semi-truck or its trailer. Some $31 million in electronics were stolen, and about $16 million worth of food and beverages.
Wisconsin isn't a hot spot for cargo theft, but it does have an outsized share of the country's largest trucking companies. Schneider, which has shortened its name to the single word but formally remains Schneider National Inc., ranks No. 6 on the Transport Topics list of the biggest carriers. Two other state firms, Marten Transport and rapidly growing Roadrunner Transportation, rank 42 and 24, respectively.
Walt Fountain, director of safety and enterprise security at Schneider, said the company has seen thefts drop from several hundred a year in the mid 2000s to "well under 75" now.
One reason for that is "geo-fencing" technology that can deliver messages to drivers when they enter truck stops and rest areas that have had a high incidence of thefts in the immediate past, Fountain said.
The messages advise drivers of steps to take to prevent theft, and suggest safer alternate locations to stop for rest breaks.
More significant, Fountain said, are theft-deterrent procedures that Schneider has in place. Among them are making sure a driver is informed about details of his load, and that he gets to the shipper so he can pull away with five or six hours of available driving time — enough to "move out of that red zone" around big metro areas, Fountain said.
Places where interstate highways converge also tend to pose theft problems, he said, as do the areas just beyond the fringe of a major population center — spots like Barstow, Calif., north of Los Angeles.
Drivers often want to pull over and rest after they emerge from the congestion of a big city, but that can be dangerous.
"That's where you see a lot of theft," Fountain said.