The many news crime reports including those relating to cargo theft reveal criminals are becoming more violent. Not only are cargo thefts growing more dangerous but also more expensive. Crooks have the resources to steal cargo worth millions.
A CTV News story says 24 people have been arrested for their connection to tractor-trailer cargo thefts. They’ve also committed violent criminal acts throughout Toronto. They’re suspected to be part of an organized crime gang.
Their 54 charges include death threats, possession of firearms, and theft of vehicles, as well as heating and air conditioning units worth more than $1 million.
“The suspects used violence, intimidation and financial reward to recruit members and commit criminal acts throughout southern Ontario. This group is believed to be responsible for multiple weapons offences, cargo thefts and drug trafficking,” said a police news release.
The Growing Number of Violent and Cargo Thefts
In Miami, three men stole $ more than $1 million worth of cargo filled with seafood. They pulled this off with a fake identity as they pretended to be a buyer for a grocery store. According to the a local news report, a suspect identified himself as Brian Gomez when he contacted a food importer claiming to act on behalf of a supermarket.
He placed multiple orders. After making the order, the importer told him to pick up the seafood cargo from a warehouse. The staffers finally caught on and contacted the grocery store’s corporate office. They said there was no employee named Brian Gomez and the email he used wasn’t valid.
The Florida Highway (FHW) Safety Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence started an investigation. They spotted a tractor-trailer with the seafood cargo and followed them. When the suspects arrived at a facility, the investigators arrested them.
Cargo theft is multiplying because criminals can steal thousands and even millions of dollars in minutes. Even the ones with elaborate schemes to defraud companies still pay off far more than the time it takes to create fake identities.
Sensitech’s U.S. Cargo Theft Report indicates the average loss value per cargo theft incident during the third quarter of 2021 was $337,000. WJCL 22 says cargo theft costs companies and customers $30 billion. The numbers related to cargo theft are likely to be higher because cargo theft remains greatly underreported.
Moreover, the latest National Retail Federation (NRF) report on national retail security and organized retail crime indicates crime against retail has grown more expensive and complex. It has also experienced a rise in the average loss per crime.
“The increasingly risky environment has repercussions that extend well beyond a company’s bottom line into actual threats against employees and customers,” says the report.
More than 80% of loss prevention professionals responding to NRF’s survey state that they’re paying greater attention to store violence and shooting incidents. Over half is also concerned about cyber-related crimes, organized retail crime, and internal theft. They’re putting a higher priority on addressing these problems.
Additionally, almost two-thirds of NRF survey participants claim the pandemic caused a slight or significant increase in workplace violence. More than 50% experienced a rise in organized retail crime. Other crimes going up include employee theft and cargo theft.
Violent crimes have jumped from 5% up to 40% compared to the same period in 2021 according to a FOX News analysis of crimes in major cities. Business owners have noticed the escalation in violent crimes. KGW8 News heard from businesses in Portland, Oregon, who say they’re afraid for their lives. The situation is bad enough that they’re created a safety group.
5 Ways to Help Prevent Violence and Cargo Theft
So, what can companies do to deter crimes and violence? Here are five ways to help avoid violence and reduce your risk of cargo theft. The more security layers you have, the harder it will be for criminals to find weak points as these five ways will help make that possible.
1. Get to Know Your Local Police
Introduce yourself to the police officers and build a relationship with them. This relationship may prompt them to drive by your business on a regular basis. Some police departments assign officers by location. Check with yours to find out what officers patrol the location of your business.
Have drinks and a variety of snacks on hand at all times. Treating them to a cold or hot beverage and food can help cement relationships. Even giving them a handwritten thank you note can mean a lot. They often work inside their vehicle parked in a public parking lot. Let them know they’re welcome to park in yours. When they do, bring out the drinks and snacks.
You might be able to strengthen your security. Check with the local police department to see if they do free security checks. This typically involves them walking around your property and providing recommendations to enhance security.
2. Protect the Perimeter
A good way to protect your business property and everything around it including the parking lot is with perimeter security. One of the easiest and most affordable crime prevention tools in your toolbox is lighting.
As you investigate options for lighting, look into getting the right type of lighting and where you’re going to put them. Some types of lights work better. It’s not about brightness. There’s a science to theft-deterrent lighting that you might want to bring in an expert.
Hopefully, you will never have first responders coming to your business. But if they do, will they be able to find your address? It’s important to verify your address is visible to everyone from the street. Every second counts and you want to make sure first responders go to the right place.
Do you have landscaping around your property? This can make or break your security. Crooks look for bad landscaping because it gives them a place to hide and find their way into the business without anyone seeing them. Evaluate your landscaping and how it may affect security. It’s also critical to keep it maintained. Overgrown greenery blocks views and helps prowlers.
3. Document and Implement Policies and Procedures
Employee theft is a problem. You can be proactive in cutting the risk of employee theft and fortifying security. The place to start is by documenting security policies and business processes. For example, make it a policy to do background checks on new employees before you extend the offer to hire them.
After officially hiring them, require all new employees to go through training on these processes and procedures. They need to sign off on the training showing they understand the policies and procedures and will follow them. All employees should get refresher training at least once a year to prevent them from becoming complacent about security.
The training would cover encouraging them to report suspicious people and activities as soon as possible. They will learn to capture identifying information while it’s fresh in their minds. Walk them through different scenarios and how to respond.
Scenarios would include active shooting and cargo theft. Strongly advise employees to avoid engaging with intruders. Explain what security you’ve put in place. The more employees know about security, the less likely they will attempt internal theft.
4. Add an Asset Tracking System
Once set up, an asset tracking system becomes invaluable. It’s a way to keep track of your most important assets and inventory. You can add a layer of security by etching identification numbers into the most expensive assets. Take photos of the assets and enter them into the asset management system.
Since you’re working on building a relationship with law enforcement, ask them about the best way to label assets. If you have a lot of vehicles, ask for advice on how to protect catalytic converters in your vehicles as these are being stolen in droves.
5. Implement Video Surveillance with Remote Monitoring
Most traditional security systems are reactive in that they don’t do anything until after something has already happened. By the time anyone realizes this, it could be too late. A proactive security system like remote video surveillance can help deter crimes before they happen.
Installing video surveillance starts with strategically placing cameras around the property. Video analytics and a trained monitoring operator watch for potential problems in real time. Whenever they catch an intruder, they can issue audible warnings and call the police. Officers often arrive before the criminals leave the property. The monitoring operator is not located on your property.
Remote video surveillance does more than help avert crime. Here’s a real-life example: A company’s fleet truck damaged a car during the daytime. However, no one on the property saw it happen. Fortunately, the security cameras and monitoring operator did. The operator zoomed in on the truck to capture the driver’s face, license plate, and fleet number. All footage is saved.
A proactive video surveillance system like the one from Stealth helps maximize security as you’ll benefit from full site monitoring and typically faster emergency response times. The technology can deliver a quick return on your security investment. You’ll help protect your cargo and your employees while ensuring they follow processes and procedures.
When you implement all of these five things, you can create a safer and more secure environment for your employees, customers, and visitors. To learn more about video surveillance and how it’s possible to do more than deter cargo theft, check out the guide to Remote Video Surveillance: More Than Just Catching Criminals. For a customized security plan that fits your requirements and maximizes your ROI, contact us.