February 14th, 2005
By John Albrecht, Vice President, Transport Security, Inc.
In the transportation industry, a strong security and loss prevention department is a necessity, not a luxury. Theft of cargo and equipment is estimated to cost $10 billion to $15 billion annually. Depending on your operating ratio, it takes $10 to $15 in increased revenue to make up for every dollar lost through theft.
Progressive corporations should be guided by a strong security and loss prevention program, rather than depending on a crisis management team to react after the crime has taken place.
An effective security and loss prevention program should include the following: employee screening, a loss reporting system, a reward program, physical security and law enforcement involvement.
Employee screening is an important aspect of a successful company. An employer should keep in mind that a stable and honest employee will have credible references from past co-workers and former employers.
Developing a thorough background investigation procedure can single out a less desirable applicant. Employers should ask for specific information, such as names and phone numbers of past employers. If the applicant cannot provide this information or any other facts requested on this form, he or she should not be considered for the job.
If the applicant skips a question such as “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” the company should not assume the answer was no.
It is necessary to educate all drivers of their responsibility to report any losses of cargo or equipment via a loss reporting system. Unreported small losses can quickly add up to substantial sums at year’s end, but by this time it is too late to take any action.
Drivers should be able to contact a company official 24 hours a day when theft occurs s’ that immediate action can be taken.
The development of a loss report form is important to obtain all pertinent information regarding a theft: date, time, location, license numbers of the tractor and trailer, the vehicle identification numbers of the tractor and trailer, the make and model of the tractor and trailer, a description of commodity hauled, driver report, police notification and any suspect. Quick and effective reporting will increase the chance of successful recovery of stolen property.
Reward programs that pay for information are very effective. These programs must be administered very carefully, however, and in for matmon guarded to give credibility. The program should include a toll-free telephone number that is dedicated to reporting fraud, theft or misconduct within the company.
To develop an effective security and loss prevention program, strong physical deterrents are essential, including king pin locks, seals, padlocks, rear door locks and steering locks. King pin locks protect trailers from theft while they are spotted at terminals or retail stores.
The use of numbered seals on shipments, including multi-drop loads, is strongly encouraged.
Padlocks and rear door locks are very important in the reduction of pilferage.
Fleets initiating a strong lock and seal program have drastically reduced cargo theft.
There are many organizations involved with security and loss prevention: American Society of Industrial Security, Safety and Loss Prevention Management Council of American Trucking Associations, International Association of Chiefs of Police and National Cargo Security Council. Also, law enforcement and transportation companies have started regional cargo theft task forces. These include Mid-West Cargo Security Council, Chicago; Eastern Regional Transportation Security Council, Mybrook, N.Y.; Western States Cargo Theft Association, Cypress. Calif.; Midsouth Cargo Security Council, Memphis, Tenn.; Southwest Transportation Security Council, Dallas; Southeast Transportation Security Council, Atlanta: and Florida Cargo Security Council, Miami.
The objectives of these organizations are to reduce theft, develop contacts, exchange theft reports and establish a liaison with law enforcement officials in the cities where your fleets haul freight.
Thefts can never be totally eliminated, but strong preventive measures are vital in combating theft and maintaining good profit levels.