Cargo theft is among the top concerns of truckers everywhere. After a long day of driving, trying to find safe parking and staying on top of your business operations, it can be difficult to keep securing your freight top of mind.
What is Cargo Theft?
There are two main types of cargo theft you should watch out for: hijacking and pilferage. Hijacking is when someone steals your loaded trailer and drives off with it. Pilferage, on the other hand, is when an individual or group breaks into your trailer, steals what they can carry and leaves the scene afterward.
The top stolen commodities in the U.S. include:
- Household goods
- Food and beverages
- Vehicles and accessories
- Base metals
Use the tips below to decrease your chances of being a target for any type of cargo theft.
Lock It Up
Let’s start out with a simple reminder: lock your cargo. A lock and key can be a great deterrent for cargo thieves, as they commonly strike at the sight of an opportunity. They are more likely to go for an open container, so any lock (e.g., landing gear locks, air cuff locks, rear door locks, etc.) can help deter them from approaching your truck.
A common strategy cargo thieves use is criminal surveillance; they wait, follow a truck out of the facility and steal the cargo when the truck stops. Since most criminal surveillance occurs within a mile of the load origin, be aware and look for occupied vehicles parked outside shipping facilities. When leaving, look for a group of following vehicles or a vehicle with multiple adults riding together (especially in a van, pickup or SUV, since they have more space to fit the stolen cargo). Stay vigilant and pay attention to your surroundings, especially for the first few miles of your route.
After picking up your load, drive for at least 200 miles before stopping. The further out you are from the shipping facility, the less likely thieves will be to track your vehicle. To prepare for an uninterrupted drive, get yourself and your vehicle ready before pickup by fueling, inspecting, eating and anything else you need to do before picking up your load.
After driving for at least 200 miles, start thinking about a safe parking space. Make sure to choose a well-lit parking lot, and, if you can, back up your trailer against a building or fence to make it difficult for thieves to open the trailer doors. Cargo thieves monitor dark and secluded parking lots early in the morning before employees arrive, so it’s best to arrive to your destination when it is open. If you absolutely need to leave your trailer without supervision, survey your surroundings outside before and after you come back to check for any signs of security breaches. Your parking strategy can save you from becoming a cargo theft victim.
Think Wisely Before You Share
Remember that anyone can go after your cargo, including maintenance personnel, facility workers, waitresses or a fellow truck driver. Even people you cannot see can be a threat and gain valuable information from social media or CB radio conversations. To further protect your cargo and equipment, make sure to only discuss your loads, routes, times and destinations with individuals who need to know.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember the dangers of cargo theft. Only by understanding the risks can you fully protect yourself and your fellow truck drivers. Following the tips above can dramatically decrease your chances of falling victim to cargo theft.