The Independence Day holiday period has shown cargo is exceptionally vulnerable to theft because of reduced security or, in some cases, no security at all. According to CargoNet, a division of Verisk Crime Analytics, 30 thefts were reported between July 2 and July 7 last year, and in 2012, 39 thefts were reported for the same period. Here are some tips on how you can beef up security for your goods in the warehouse and in transit.
1. Employee Screening
Conduct a background check of drivers, warehouse employees, and anyone who has access to shipment information and other logistics details. Many cargo thefts are "inside jobs." Drug testing may also help to identify potentially high risk employees. One can effectively argue that using illegal drugs also has an increased likelihood to be involved in possibly illegal situations to fund their drug use.
2. Employee Training
Provide security training for all employees, and educate truck drivers on how to prevent cargo theft and hijacking. For instance, drivers should park in well-lit areas, preferably near the front of the truck stop near the facilities rather than in a quiet back row. They should check to make sure load seals are intact during pre-trip inspections and during stops en route. Drivers should learn to watch for a vehicle tailing them and what to do if they spot one. And they should know the required procedure if a theft happens.
3. Practice Routing and In-Transit Security
Thieves routinely wait outside known shipping points, such as plants, warehouses and distribution centers. They follow trucks as they leave, wait for drivers to stop, then grab the cargo, often in less than five minutes. Counter this by instructing drivers to go at least 200 miles or four hours before stopping, and then use secured lots. And they should avoid cargo theft hot spots. Security cameras can be both a deterrent and detection device.
4. Visual Locks Can Be a Deterrent
Locks will deter opportunistic thieves and will at least slow down those determined to get a specific load. Some critics believe a bigger lock or fancier seal also can tip off thieves that there's something in there worth stealing. In addition to padlocking trailer doors, consider ways to secure unattended trailers, like kingpin locks, and for the tractor, locks for air brake valves and gladhands. There are also devices designed to prevent tampering with cargo seals. Arial markings on the roof of he trailer can be effective in aiding law enforcement to identify a trailer from the air in the early hours of a tractor highjack.
5. Investigate Secure Locations to Stop
"Freight at rest is freight at risk," say theft prevention professionals.
One of the big problems is drivers who pick up a load on Friday that needs to be delivered a 10-hour drive away, but the receiver won't accept it until Monday. It's going to sit over the weekend, and statistically weekends are peak times for cargo theft, especially full trailer loads. Look for other carriers yards reasonably in route to the consignee to park the truck over the weekend. Carriers' yards should have good fencing and a gate system that's monitored by security staff. Make sure the perimeter, entrances, building doors and windows are well-lit. Back trailers up against a solid wall or barrier to prevent door openings.
Some Options For Your Fleet/Freight Carrier
1. Utilize the Latest in Technology
Particularly vulnerable, high-value cargoes might require high-tech protection. Many tracking and communications systems can remotely disable a truck that has been reported stolen or that travels outside a previously set "geofence." For instance, InteliTrailer sells a keyless lock/unlock product operated by smart phone or hand-held remote control. It also offers a GPS tracking and disabling system. Magtec makes security systems with features like driver authentication; unattended idle protection; real-time reporting of the state of the vehicle; remote disabling while moving or parked; in-cab panic/emergency buttons; remote lock and unlock, and more.
2. Track It
Tracking and communication systems can keep track of vehicles and help recover lost loads. Using Skybitz trailer tracking, Mesilla Valley Transportation was able to recover several trailers and their loads following an attempted theft. Trailer tracking capability also helped MVT land a Fortune 500 shipper of consumer electronics, computers, televisions and other high-ticket items that was concerned about product theft. However, as regular truck and trailer tracking used for productivity has become common, professional thieves have become experts in disabling it. That's why you're seeing more "covert" devices that can be hidden in inside a freight pallet or beneath the undercarriage of a trailer. Some are small enough to be hidden inside a pill bottle. When using covert tracking it's important to work hand in hand with the shipper. You need to have in place proper response procedures, notification procedures, so everyone knows what they're going to do" if the load does get stolen.
3. Use a Redundant, Multi-Layered Approach
The effectiveness of all these strategies will be multiplied when used in combination. Over lacking technologies eliminate any cracks in your protection. The more barriers you throw up, the less cargo theft you're going to see. If thieves see people following the procedures, they're generally going to target someone else. If they see trailers are sealed, if they see accurate counting, if they see drivers staying on route and parking in secure areas, thieves are more likely to look for easier pickings. Once a program's in place, stick with it. Conduct regular audits to make sure everyone's following procedures.
Smart criminals are always coming up with new ways to defeat security devices and systems. There are a number of resources available to help you stay on top of them, stay informed on cargo theft trends, and identify hotspots where drivers should avoid stopping or at least take extra security precautions. Share that information with drivers and other employees. Carriers and Shippers can use info from other fleets, local law enforcement and the FBI. Some online resources are; http://www.freightwatchintl.com/ and http://www.cargonet.com/. While some of these suggestions require a cash investment, many are more a matter of being aware and developing and using policies and strategies to help keep cargo safe.