June 22, 2022
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Cargo theft is a big concern for many trucking companies. Shippers and carriers often have regulations in place for cargo theft prevention, but there are some steps you can take as a truck driver to reduce the risk of your truck being targeted by cargo thieves.
The most important thing you can do to prevent cargo theft is to pay attention to your surroundings. If you see anything out of place while on the road or while stopped at a truck stop or rest area, make sure to take steps to protect yourself and your freight. This can be as simple as calling law enforcement, but it may also mean moving your truck to a better parking spot near security cameras or lighted areas.
If you’re on the road, keep an eye out for a car that may be following you. If you suspect someone is following you, and you are worried that your truck may be a target for thieves, make a few turns and call the police as well as your fleet dispatch. If you can, pull into a police station, well-lit gas station, or somewhere else that is safe and well-lit while you wait for the police to arrive.
When you park your truck, check if there are security cameras in and around the parking lot, and park within view of them if possible. You may also want to park with the rear doors in front of a wall or something that makes it more difficult for thieves to access your freight. If you’ve parked your big rig and notice someone suspicious near your truck, it can make it hard to relax and sleep for the night. Call the police and your dispatch to let them know. You may want to move your truck if you can and if your Hours of Service will allow you to do so.
Many truckers use dashboard cameras to protect themselves in the event of an accident, but they can also be very useful in preventing cargo theft or at least in helping to catch the thieves if you do get robbed. Your trucking company may pay for a dash cam to protect you and the cargo, but if they don’t, there are many affordable options that are well worth the cost to keep yourself safe.
It’s important to talk to your dispatch frequently. Some trucking companies ask drivers to check in every time they stop to provide their location, duration of the stop, and other information. This is particularly true if you’re transporting high-risk cargo like electronics or food and beverages. If you’re an owner-operator, it’s a good idea to check in regularly with your family or friends to let them know where you are and when you expect to be at your next destination. If something happens in between, it will make the investigation go a lot faster.
If you know you’re carrying high value cargo that is at risk of theft, make sure to take some extra time when planning your route. It may not always be possible to avoid all high-crime areas (hot spots) or any truck stops that have a reputation for cargo theft, but minimize your risk by planning your route without stops in those areas as much as possible. Port cities and large metro areas experience higher cargo theft rates than other areas. And when traveling around the holidays, thefts are a lot more likely to occur.
This may seem obvious, but using locks and security seals is an easy and effective way to prevent cargo theft. Your company may have rules about what kinds of locks or security devices must be used for various loads, so make sure you understand their security policies and always comply with them. Your employer may require king pin locks for some loads while simple padlocks for others. It’s important that your trailer doors are always secured, regardless of what kind of lock you use.
There are two main types of cargo theft: pilferage and hijacking. Thieves mostly steal cargo for one reason: to sell it on the black market. And both methods of cargo theft will allow them to do just that with your freight.
Pilferage is when cargo thieves take a few cases or pieces from a load. They break into your trailer and quickly grab what they can carry, and make off with a small percentage of your cargo. These types of thefts typically occur at truck stops, rest stops, and other places where your truck may be unattended. It may not seem like a big deal for thieves to take a few pieces of a large load, but if you’re transporting expensive electronics, precious metals, or medical supplies, those missing units will be an expensive problem.
Hijacking is when a thief or a team of thieves takes control of your rig and drives off with the loaded trailer. This kind of cargo theft is much more dangerous for the driver, and it occurs while on the road. Often these thieves are involved in organized crime and have a routine that they follow to hijack semi trucks. Having a dash cam and a GPS tracking device can be a deterrent to potential hijackers. But make sure to report any suspicious activity on the road to law enforcement regardless of the type of cargo you’re hauling.