How Can Fleets Protect Themselves from Cargo Theft?

Posted by Sean Murphy on July 27, 2021

Here’s some good news: Compared to the same period last year, supply chain theft numbers dropped in the first quarter of 2021 per a press release from CargoNet. Before you breathe a sigh of relief, consider this. USA Today references a different CargoNet report, which reveals cargo theft numbers have soared by 35 percent making it the highest since 2016.

Those numbers are most likely dramatically higher. Cargo theft goes largely underreported for different reasons. One is because there's no single system to track it all. Two, the ones that track it don't always categorize theft in the same way.

Third, many businesses won't report theft because they don't want their insurance premiums to increase. Fourth, they fear bad publicity. Negative news affects brand reputation and customer confidence.

History shows thieves often strike on holiday weekends and bad times. Cargo theft climbed during the downturn of 2008 and again because of the pandemic.

The Real Price of Cargo Theft

Cargo theft puts a huge hit on finances. "In total, each cargo theft event in first-quarter 2021 was worth an average of $142,574," writes CargoNet in its press release. The domino effect of cargo theft costs far more than the estimated value of the stolen goods.

At first glance, $142k may not sound like much to some companies. However, it would take far more sales to offset the loss. SupplyChainBrain points to a study on stolen digital cameras worth $200k. The study finds it would take 10 times the number of sales, or $2 million, to counter the loss. By this formula, counteracting the loss of $142.5k will require $1.4 million in sales.

Not only this but also companies can't afford to lose any cargo. The supply chain has been out of whack for the past year. With factories closing and then reopening with far fewer employees, they've fallen behind in manufacturing. Don't forget about the billions of dollars lost each day one infamous ship got stuck in the Suez Canal.

Supply chain troubles are part of the reason for the rising costs of materials. Replacing stolen goods may cost more than their initial price. Thus, it may take a lot more than $1.4 million in sales to offset the loss. Additionally, the supply chain has to factor in shipping to replace the stolen goods plus the fees associated with taxes and duties.

With materials becoming notably more expensive, it forces companies to raise prices to pass the cost to the customer. This puts customer trust and loyalty at risk. Simply put, companies can't afford cargo theft with rising costs, a sluggish supply chain, a battered brand reputation, and lost customer loyalty. The numbers point to the need to take steps to protect your fleet and cargo.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Fleet from Cargo Theft?

Protecting your fleet greatly benefits from a layered security approach. Start by educating your employees including drivers and dock workers. Explain how cargo theft affects the business and take them through the different tactics thieves use.

Experts recommend not putting information that reveals the contents of the package or what the tractor-trailer hauls. While this won't stop the wheeler dealer who will gladly take the risk to steal the trailer, it can reduce temptation.

The more sophisticated thieves will go so far as to create replicas of security devices using 3D printing. In just 10 minutes, they can create an almost identical copy of ISO 17712 high-security cargo seals and locks. This lets them tamper with the original seals and replace them with the 3D-printed seal they made. To fight this, randomly change the colors of the seals.

It would help to fortify your processes and procedures. For example, you might stop leaving filled trailers overnight. Don't pack the trailer until the night before it departs. Before releasing the load, consider taking photos of the truck, driver, and bill of lading as well as capturing the driver's fingerprints.

Ensure the driver has enough fuel and rest to drive at least 250 miles from the pickup station without stopping. Thieves can and will follow a driver in hopes they stop sooner. They're less likely to keep following the driver for 250 miles.

Explore options for tracking the trailer and containers. A possibility is to add GPS to the pallets and containers. However, some crooks use a GPS jammer to block the technology from showing its location. Although it uses GPS, turning on geofencing while parked can alert the driver if someone tries to take off with the truck. Another way to stop someone from breaking in is to use high-security rear door locks and air cuff locks.

You can revise the shipment process to strengthen security by requiring trucking companies to provide information to your company at least 24 hours before pick-up. The information includes the name of the driver and carrier, truck number, and insurance details.

Confirm identities, investigate the company, and check their contact information on the Internet. Those in the U.S. can check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). Background checks on all new employees should already be a standard operating procedure. If it's not, add it. It will help reduce the chances of inside jobs.

A news story from Global News quotes a trucking company representative who says that many businesses cut corners when it comes to security. Instead of saving on costs, they end up paying for it.

A common response to cargo theft is to post security personnel or security guards at warehouses and distribution centers. This will likely increase operating costs and you have better options that are more affordable to thwart cargo theft. Implement a shipment process using the previous suggestions and adding video surveillance.

Processes are only as good as the employees who follow them. That's why it's important to hold training on the processes, procedures, and security. They also need to understand how the seals work. Keep everyone vigilant by conducting security training and reviewing processes at least once a year or more often.

How Video Surveillance Helps Prevent Cargo Theft

Video surveillance systems help companies take a proactive approach to security and deter crime. Use motion-activated surveillance cameras within the fleet as well as on the loading docks, parking areas, and wherever the trucks park. It may be worth looking into long-range surveillance and license plate recognition. These technologies can attain identifying information such as the license plates, driver's face, and vehicle number.

When the suspect moves too quickly, high-resolution cameras can identify involved parties. The system saves all the footage for later review and sharing with law enforcement. Anytime a company discovers a theft after it occurs, they can have analysts search the video surveillance recordings to piece together what happened and identify the offender.

You can take security a step further by using video surveillance systems that rely on a combination of analytics and human operators. The analytics part of the equation watches for specific scenarios and alerts the operator when it finds a match. The operator responds as needed. It could be using the on-site speaker to issue a warning, calling the police, or both.

Remote video surveillance can do more than stop crime. For example, an employee driving a company's fleet truck hit another vehicle during the daytime. The incident went unnoticed on the site. However, someone did catch it. The security operator located in a remote location spotted it on the monitor. The person zoomed in on the truck to capture the license plate, fleet number, and driver's face.

Companies also use video surveillance systems to spot bottlenecks and breakdowns in processes and procedures. Video surveillance is different from other security solutions because it's proactive, delivers the highest level of security for your fleet, and helps reduce liability. Because of all these benefits, it can help deliver a quick ROI for security.

An Integrated Solution for Fleets

Logistics and transportation security solutions help protect cargo, hubs, and outdoor assets from theft and vandalism. You can work with security experts who design and install a customized system that includes management tools and capabilities. Logistics and transportation companies tend to integrate access control with remote gate management and video surveillance.

For a deeper dive into issues affecting fleets and the transportation industry, pick up The Effects of Crime on the Transportation Industry white paper. You'll also learn about the trends affecting the industry.

Here are other available cargo theft security services:

  • Video review: Search hours of footage for activity and evidence.
  • Security partnership: Partner with a company that has connections to the police.
  • System health check: Ensure your system always works properly.
  • IT services for remote support: Access IT staff 24/7.
  • Management reporting: Receive reports with the results of your video surveillance.

A proactive video surveillance system can maximize security by combining analytics and human operators. When you choose Stealth, you benefit from faster response times and complete perimeter monitoring. The technology pays for itself within months.

Stealth can design a security plan to meet your requirements. To learn more about cargo theft deterrents, please contact us.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Security Tips, Video Monitoring