According to SensiGuard’s quarterly cargo theft analysis, cargo theft is on the rise in value and in volume. In Q1 of 2019, 144 cargo thefts were reported across the U.S. These thefts averaged a value of $116,717 per theft, with one theft valuing at over $1 million. SensiGuard states that these recorded thefts represent a one percent increase in value and a 25 percent increase in cargo theft volume from Q1 of 2018. The report also states that the most targeted freight for theft is categorized as “miscellaneous freight.” Mainly consisting of mixed load shipments on their way to big box stores across the country, this miscellaneous freight and electronics have the two most reported thefts.
The rise in cargo theft means that it is more important than ever to keep packages safe and secure while on the road, at truck stops, and in parking lots. Here are a few ways to keep cargo thieves at bay.
Keep Drop Off Locations Private
It may seem harmless to mention your drop off locations to family or friends. You may even do so as an added safety precaution or to give your loved ones peace of mind. However, if this information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to compromised cargo. Cargo thieves may be targeting you through CB correspondence, social media, or even casual conversations at a truck stop. To ensure thieves are unable to trace you, be sure to keep your drop off location as private as possible.
Use Tracking Technology
While it isn’t a good idea to mention your drop off locations on social media or messenger apps, using technology is a great way to keep track of your truck in the event of a theft. There are a variety of tools available to track your truck and pinpoint its location using GPS. Geofencing apps that send a security alarm if a truck is traveling outside its given route is another great option for truckers. It is even possible to utilize immobilization technology to disable your truck until it is found.
Don’t Forget Low-Tech Devices
Padlocks, king pin locks, huck bolts, glad hand locks and seals, and air brake valves are all great low-tech ways to keep your truck and cargo safe while in route. These devices can help prevent thieves from breaking into your truck and can even work as a deterrent to stop them from trying in the first place.
Know When and Where to be Alert
As a trucker, it is important to always be aware of your surroundings. This means to stay alert and notice when you are being followed. It is also important to know when and where most crimes take place. According to Overdrive, most truck theft crimes happen on the weekend. In fact, Friday is the most common day to experience truck or cargo theft. Additionally, Georgia, California, Florida, and New Jersey experience the most cargo thefts each year, with California having the highest theft rates in the country.
Practice Safety in Parking Lots
Even when parked, it is important to stay aware of your surroundings. When in a parking lot, be sure to always keep the truck locked and in a well-lit, secure area. Even when you are out of your truck, be aware of who is around and who seems to be paying attention to your truck. Additionally, make sure you are not being followed when you exit a facility to walk back to your truck.
Perform Thorough Background Checks
Because inside cargo theft is a growing concern in the trucking industry, it is important for freight owners and employers to perform thorough screenings and background checks on all potential employees. This should especially include a full criminal record check. This can help employers lower their chances of inside cargo theft and make sure to hire honest employees.
Follow the 200-Mile Rule
Since thieves are known to follow a load as it is leaving the yard, it is important to follow the 200-mile rule. This rule encourages drivers to wait at least 200 miles before stopping for fuel, food, or breaks after picking up cargo. Many thieves expect trucks to make an early stop and will follow nearby, so waiting at least 200 miles will lower the risk of theft at your first stop.
The Trucker’s Safety Comes First
Even with cargo theft on the rise across the country, it is an avoidable crime. By following training procedures and being cautious on the road, you can deliver your cargo to its destination safely each time. However, it is important to remember that the driver’s safety is the top priority on every route. When it comes to protecting cargo, no trucker should be expected or feel obligated to protect the shipment over themselves.