What Are the Best Ways to Improve Warehouse Security?

Posted by Sean Murphy on December 6, 2021

The good news is that the third quarter of 2021 saw a decrease in supply chain theft and fraud from the third quarter in 2020 per a CargoNet report. However, the year 2020 saw record-setting numbers for supply chain theft. When comparing the third quarter of 2021 data to 2019's, theft is higher in 2021.

Out of the almost 400 reported incidents of theft, warehouses came in second for the top targeted location. And the No. 1 spot goes to truck stops. Remember, this data only looks at reported incidents. Many companies will not report cargo or supply chain theft. They fear it will drive up their insurance premiums or hurt their company's brand.

Even with companies reporting theft, the data tends to show fewer incidents than what is actually reported. Cargo theft is notorious for being underreported because there is not a single system to track the data. For those that do, they don't categorize thefts in the same way.

What to Expect in Coming Months?

The most important thing to do now is to get ready for the holidays. History has repeatedly shown thieves tend to strike during the holidays. CargoNet indicates they expect theft activity to "remain elevated."

On top of this, the U.S. and Canada are still contending with the supply chain crisis. Cargo containers are backed up especially in the California ports. This means more cargo is sitting, providing thieves with a crime of opportunity. It's a harsh reminder to implement effective warehouse security solutions to prevent losing precious assets.

Here is advice from CargoNet on how companies can prepare for the increase of thefts that occurs during the holidays.

"Organizations can step up security by arranging for same-day delivery of short-haul shipments, embedding covert tracking devices, and by using high-security locks to prevent trailer burglaries," CargoNet writes. "Drivers should not leave their vehicles or shipments unattended, especially within 250 miles of pickup. Drivers should also be on the lookout for any vehicles that appear to be following them."

A CBS news story quotes experts who say they expect the pace of theft will accelerate through 2022. Experts believe the U.S. and Canada won't come out of this for a few years. The message is clear. Companies need to protect their warehouses and trucks. Here are five ways to help protect all your assets.

1. Automate Data Entry

Some warehouses and loading docks rely on mobile devices with barcode scanners or RFID readers to track products when they arrive or leave the dock. This automation is far easier to manage and more accurate than doing it manually. With the widespread use of technology and its affordability, there's no need to rely on outdated, error-prone manual data entry processes.

2. Educate Drivers

Most thefts occur at truck stops when the driver steps away from the truck. Too often, truck drivers keep the truck running and maybe even unlocked when they do something quick like paying for gas. Unfortunately, this kind of theft is rarely reported because no one is sure where the theft took place and it's difficult to trace.

Driver education can make a huge difference in reducing thefts. While most of these are common sense advice, people don't always think about them. It's better to train the drivers than to assume they know these things.

It's critical to keep doors locked and to use security seals. They help slow down the theft and maybe even deter it. Crooks would rather find another truck with fewer barriers especially one that's unlocked, which allows them to break in quickly.

Another tip that comes up often is to avoid stopping anywhere within 200 to 250 miles of where the pickup originated, known as the red zone. Determined crooks will follow trucks and watch for an opportunity to grab the cargo.

Data shows these occur within the 200 to 250 miles of the point of origin. Encourage drivers to be prepared and do what they can to drive at least 250 miles before stopping. Ensure they have enough fuel, snacks, and drinks to last until they get outside the red zone.

3. Create a Truck Verification Process

Create and follow a verification process to check truck and company information. Make it a requirement for truck companies to provide specific information before picking up the cargo. This includes the driver's and carrier's names, truck numbers, and insurance information. If a truck arrives in fewer than 24 hours or without notice, then do not pack the shipment.

You can verify company information and identities with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) and the Internet. Better yet regularly communicate with your partners, vendors, and customers.

As soon as the truck arrives, take pictures of the truck, driver, and bill of lading. Also, be sure to capture the driver's fingerprints. If the driver refuses to cooperate, explain that this is your standard process, and you will not make exceptions.

You can automate the check-in and verification process with a gate and access control system as well as an integrated video surveillance system. This can track the truck's movement from entry to exit. And speaking of access control …

4. Add Access Control

For the past year, companies have been implementing contactless entry management at their entry gates. They plan to continue to use this technology even after the crisis ends. It helps reduce the risk of employees becoming sick.

Before contactless entry, security guards would monitor the gate from the security shack. Unfortunately, they can risk exposing the truck driver and whoever comes to the entry because the guard does not stay in the shack for the entire shift. They may go out to lunch or enter the building for their breaks. The less contact, the better.

Effective access gates integrate security consisting of an access control system and video surveillance. Access control manages who can enter the perimeter, building, and limited-access rooms.

Remote video surveillance can handle this, including verifying the driver's credentials, recording the driver's face, documenting the license plates and vehicle number, and noting the time-stamped footage for reports.

Video surveillance monitors everyone who enters and leaves the property. A trained monitoring operator watches the cameras positioned at the entry point. When a truck pulls in, the operator will ask for information from the driver and confirm everything is good. The camera also scans the truck for identification information.

After the driver passes all inspections, the operator remotely opens the gate and lets the truck in. This process works for Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) inspections. This requires searching the tractors and trailers at warehouses, distribution centers, and logistics facilities. Typically, security guards do these inspections by doing a review of the entire trailer.

Check out this gate and access control video to see how it works. The only thing the guard will need to inspect is the trailer and check the seals. All of this is contactless.

5. Install Remote Video Surveillance

As previously mentioned, a video surveillance system makes it possible to watch over the entire perimeter without having security guards patrolling. Unlike alarm systems, video surveillance takes a proactive approach to security and can help deter crime. You can post cameras around the property to watch over the trucks, loading docks, parking, the building's interior, and the gate.

Remote video surveillance does more than stop crime. For example, someone driving a company's fleet truck hit a car during daytime hours. Onsite, no one saw the incident. But someone did catch it ... from elsewhere.

The monitoring operator working from a remote location caught the accident on the security cameras. The operator zoomed in on the truck to record the license plate, fleet number, and driver's face. Some warehouses use security technologies like long-range surveillance and license plate recognition for capturing identifying information.

The system, with its high-resolution cameras, saves all the footage for later reviewing and sharing with law enforcement and anyone else who needs to see the evidence. If a company learns about theft hours or days after it happened, they can have analysts search the video recordings to figure out what happened and identify the offender.

Video surveillance is unlike any other security solution because it's proactive, maximizes security for your warehouse and trucks, and helps reduce liability. Video surveillance often leads to a fast ROI in a matter of months.

Avoid Paying the Price for Theft

As the supply chain continues to hobble along, it's critical to prevent your assets and cargo from being stolen. The price for replacing stolen items could cost more because the supply chain backlog drives up the price and takes much longer to receive the replacement. Fortunately, these five ways will help maximize your trucking and warehouse security while providing the benefits of being contactless.

Additionally, the integrated security system can locate bottlenecks and weak areas. In working with a security company like Stealth, you'll help boost productivity and security, get faster police response times, and have eyes on the entire perimeter at all times.

The technology pays for itself quickly because you won't have to hire full-time employees or security guards. The warehouse security system can save up to 60 percent of what it would cost to have security guards. This factors in the cost of hardware and monitoring services.

Thieves don't just target trucks that are parked or in transit. Supply chain and cargo thefts strike at warehouses, distribution centers, and logistics facilities. Companies rarely recover their stolen goods. To learn more about the costly problem of supply chain and cargo theft, check out this paper on the effects of crime on the transportation industry and warehouses.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Tips, Video Monitoring