You arrive at your final delivery after a long drive. You’re ready to get unloaded and head on home. But suddenly, everything goes wrong. It turns out that many of the boxes that were in your truck are not there anymore. How can this be, when you haven’t opened the truck since you picked up? You think back to the long night of driving, the short break you took at a truck stop to eat dinner, drink coffee, and chat for a while with some other truckers. Can cargo theft happen that fast? The reality of it is, it can. Thieves are always thinking of quick, efficient ways to rip off cargo and resell it. As a truck driver, you are responsible for getting all of the cargo delivered uncompromised. Here are six tips you can follow to prevent cargo theft on the road.
Podcast: Listen to Cargo Theft Prevention Tips Here!
AllTruckJobs powers a podcast called BigRigBanter, and the October 2018 episode featured Walt Beadling and Erik Hoffer from Cargo Security Alliance. Cargo Security Alliance is an alliance of companies that focus on preventing cargo theft by teaching best safety practices for global land, sea, and air supply chain. Listen below to hear what they had to say about preventing cargo theft!
Six Tips to Prevent Cargo Theft on the Road
Don’t arrive at your destination only to find that somewhere along the road you were robbed! Here are six tips to prevent cargo theft as a truck driver.
1. Understand how cargo theft happens
The most important to prevent cargo theft is to understand how it happens. As Beadling said in the podcast above, “cargo at rest is cargo at risk.” Anytime you park your truck, your cargo is at risk. However, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take breaks. In fact, with new ELD regulations in place, drivers have to take more breaks than ever before. There are things you can do to protect cargo when you’re stopped, which we’ll get into. The second factor to consider in understanding how cargo theft happens is to know what’s most likely to be stolen. For example, goods such as pharmaceuticals, food, and electronics have more value on the black market. That means thieves are looking for these things.
2. Make sure your employer provides training and education
Employers should provide training to prevent cargo theft and to know how to respond if drivers are presented with a situation of stolen freight. There should be a security culture in your company and all employees should be aware of cargo theft and hijacking. Also, make sure you understand the “red zone.” Many companies do not allow drivers to stop in the red zone, which is defined as the first 200 miles or four hours from your starting point. These are also known as hot spots, as many thieves follow trucks after they depart until the first stop.
3. Pay attention to your surroundings
Pay attention to your surroundings. There are certain areas where you’re more likely to be robbed than others. Some parts of the country have a higher rate of cargo theft than others, so knowing where those hot spots are is key. For example, busy roads that are notorious for truck travel are highly targeted. Although this map from Cargo Commerical Journal is dated 2017, it is still fairly accurate in showing where cargo theft is more common. There are red spots on the map near many larger cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, as well as many cross-through states in the south.
4. Keep your freight moving
It’s obvious that cargo is more likely to be stolen if the truck is stopped rather than moving. But, truckers need to take breaks. Companies and drivers should work together to define time limits for how long a trailer can be stopped and unattended for different circumstances. Staying with your trailer even if you’re stopped can help to prevent cargo theft. If you need to leave the truck unattended, stop in a well-lit area and try to back up against a wall or other obstacle that would make it difficult to open the truck’s doors.
5. Do some research and plan
Before you set out on your route, do some research on the states and areas you will be traveling through. Based on research and data gathered, you can plan stops that are in safer areas and plan to drive straight through the areas with high rates of cargo theft. This research can start with the training programs provided to prevent cargo theft or your own research online. The more you know, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.
6. Use technology and other safety measures
GPS tracking devices and security seals are becoming more common and the prices are becoming more reasonable. GPS tracking devices can be placed on the vehicle as well as the goods inside the truck. This way, if you do fall victim to freight theft, it’s likely that you won’t take a full loss and you might be able to recover some or all of the items stolen. It’s also important to use technology for communication between the drivers and security or other personnel in the company. If cargo will be left unattended for a period of time, this should be communicated. There are many different resources available to secure your truck, and talking to experts such as the Cargo Security Alliance, can help you get some ideas.
Do you have additional tip for preventing cargo theft? Share with us in the comments below!