Inside Logistics

Holiday heightens cargo theft risk

Parked trailers, closed DCs offer opportunities for thieves


July 1, 2020
by

Jersey City, New Jersey – Extended business closures over holidays like Canada Day and the fourth of July can create an advantageous operating environment for cargo thieves.

For the past five years, CargoNet has analyzed cargo theft data in the United States and Canada from July 1 to July 7 and found 130 cargo theft events in 27 different states, with theft most common in Texas, California and Florida.

This year’s study found that a quarter of theft events occurred on the Friday of the holiday weekend, contrary to 2018 when most theft events were reported to have taken place on Thursday, July 4.

Cargo thieves targeted shipments of food and beverage products, household goods, and mixed shipments of less than truckload (LTL) freight and general merchandise. The study estimates $5.9 million in cargo was stolen with an average value of $128,416 per theft.

To help prevent theft, the company suggests cargo should not be left unattended in high-theft areas, mentioning Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta, NYC Metro and Miami. Should truckers need to leave their cargo unattended, they should consider parking in high-security locations with active security services, secure fences, and high-visibility lighting.

Additionally, CargoNet’s data shows that over the past five years, several sophisticated warehouse burglaries of desirable items like computers, cell phones, and fragrances occurred in Miami metro, Las Vegas metro, and northern New Jersey over the Fourth of July holiday. Operators should consider making sure facilities are alarmed and to treat every alarm activation as an actual break-in, as some burglary crews may purposely trip the alarm multiple times to make authorities and facility operators think the system is malfunctioning.

Noteworthy thefts from previous July 4th holidays

  • $2,000,000 of perfume from Hillsborough Township, New Jersey;
  • $444,000 of copper cables from Long Beach, California;
  • $328,321 of toys from Trevor, Wisconsin;
  • $270,000 of jeans from Blacksburg, South Carolina;
  • $259,878 of hard drives and server chassis from Norcross, Georgia.

CargoNet offered the following tips to prevent cargo theft during the holidays.

  • Cargo thieves enjoy the holidays because shipping volume of desirable goods increases, as does demand.
  • Freight brokers should be extra-diligent during the holiday season as fictitious pickups increase.
  • End-of-day transactions should have strict vetting processes; a second look by a supervisor prior to tendering a load to a carrier may prevent a theft.
  • A trucker that is willing to take an undesirable load for a lower rate than the industry standard may be setting you up for a theft.
  • Fuel advance, hostage load, and line haul scams also increase a few days before a holiday. Prior to issuing the fuel advance, call the shipper to confirm that the load was picked up. Do not accept incoming calls from a shipper trying to tell you the driver is there–it could be the scammers spoofing the phone number of the shipper.
  • Make sure that both security managers and drivers have accurate license plate, VIN, and descriptive information for tractors, trailers, containers, and container chassis. Police agencies will need this information to open an investigation in the event of an incident. Drivers should keep this information on them so they can quickly reference it if their truck is stolen.
  • Secure all trailers (loaded and unloaded) with high-security ISO 17712- compliant barrier seals in combination with hardened padlocks. Use king pin locks for unattached trailers.
  • Secure all tractors with high-security locking devices, such as air-cuff and steering column locks.
  • Remind drivers to arrive at point of pickup well-rested, showered, and fed and with a full tank of fuel.
  • Avoid having loaded trailers sit unattended when employees are not present.
  • Check to make sure the entire facility is in good working order. This should include lighting, backup generators, alarm system(s), surveillance equipment, perimeter fencing, and any other type of barrier.
  • Remove keys from all facility equipment and place them in a secure location, especially motorized pallet jacks and forklifts.
  • Never treat any alarm signal as a false alarm. When targeting warehouse locations, cargo thieves tend to trip facility alarm systems multiple times before a break-in to give law enforcement and facility managers the impression that the alarm system is broken.
  • Encourage documentation and reporting of all suspicious activity that occurs in and around a facility to security personnel. This information can be critical to law enforcement in the event of a cargo theft incident.
  • Ask local police agencies to make routine checks of facilities during holiday downtime.