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7 ways to prevent cargo theft

Shipping and freight does not just involve ships and containers.. Local logistics and transportation are also considered to be part of the industry..

Where there is transport, there is always theft.. Theft of cargo, theft of fuel, theft of spare parts, theft of vehicle etc etc etc..

From this list, cargo theft is a serious problem for companies all over the world.. Whether it is transportation companies, groupage operators, LCL consolidators or FCL storage yards..

In below guest post, Janet Miller outlines 7 ways to prevent cargo theft

1) Don’t let your cargo’s destination be known

image for cargo theftIf you have ever heard the old saying that “loose lips sink ships”, that also holds true for cargo theft. If you tell people where you are going, thieves may be able to target you more easily. Keep your drop off locations as secret as possible.

This means implementing company-wide policies so your employees won’t accidentally spread the word, either. Be sure everyone is aware of the value of secrecy in distribution.

2) Do an internal audit at the distribution center

Assessing your distribution center is a very important part of making sure the cargo doesn’t go missing. Unfortunately, internal theft is a big problem for distributors, so making sure you have adequate surveillance technology is key.

Collusive theft is a big problem, according to Food Logistics. Employees may start to steal and continue to do so over time. Their theft activity may increase in frequency or volume. So make sure you have a great inventory management system. Audits matter because employees are less likely to steal when they think they are at risk of being caught.

By investigating both employees and inventory, you can stay on top of cargo and be sure it’s not getting stolen. Don’t wait too long to investigate cargo shrinkage because you might risk losing the source of shrinkage. Investigate shrinkage on a daily basis.

3) Use trailer door padlocks

Even though it seems simple and low-tech, padlocks on your trailer doors will prevent cargo theft immensely. Using a satellite controlled locking pin will help. Huck bolted door hardware and frames in the rear trailer will also reinforce door locks.

4) Watch the hot spots and hot times

Cargo theft is highly concentrated in six states and in certain cities and truck stops. Thefts are more frequent on weekends and spike during holidays. So make sure you hone in your security efforts on times when theft is most likely to occur. Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are three of the worst spots for cargo theft according to FreightWatch International.

In Mexico alone, more than 6000 cargo theft incidents were reported in one year, most of them being truck hijackings. In the U.S., most commonly stolen products are food and beverages, followed closely by metals and electronics.

Stay on top of trends for where these hotspots are located and types of products that are being stolen. Implementing loss-reduction programs is much easier when you know what areas are likely to be targeted.

5) Get rid of dishonest employees

Some employees are just plain dishonest and you need to let them go. If the employee has been exhibiting suspicious behavior, you need to be sure to monitor them. Try using anonymous tips to get information on possible deceit.

Conducting frequent audits will also keep this problem down. Try implementing overt surveillance as well. If you have security cameras going in high-sensitivity areas, you’ll be more likely to catch thieving employees. Using a tip line in conjunction with surveillance is a good way to ensure there are no dishonest activities taking place.

6) Create partnerships and alliances

Forming an alliance with law enforcement organizations and other companies will help you stay up to date on the latest trends of cargo theft. By partnering with other companies and with security firms, you will improve you chances to staying up to date on the latest cargo theft prevention methods.

7) Park safely

One of the biggest causes of cargo theft is improper parking. Companies need to promote safe parking habits and make sure drivers know where they are allowed to stop for breaks. Companies need to know where safe rest stops are and ensure their drivers also know these spots.

Good lighting and parking in close proximity is key, as well as giving the driver freedom to report suspicious activities that occur while he isn’t at the vehicle. Promote locking the doors and removing vehicle keys while away from the truck. And be sure to survey vehicles and look for signs of tampering.

As long as your employees are aware of safe parking practices, you should be able to prevent cargo theft at gas stations and drop off points.

If necessary, conduct training at your company’s main location to ensure each driver knows the biggest risks. Will they be driving at night?  For how many hours?  If the driver is exhausted by the time he or she arrives at the drop-off, they’ll be more at risk for theft as well because mental acuity will be less sharp.

Be sure to implement good standards for parking and drop off procedures to prevent cargo theft in your company.

Image for Janet Miller

Have you experienced cargo theft in your work, how did you deal with it and what preventative steps have you taken to protect your company from cargo theft..??

Please do share your experiences..

About the author : Janet Miller was a senior manager at a Fortune 100 company. She now spends most of her time at home and lives with her family in San Diego. You can reach her through her blog..

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  1. Regular audits might help but its time-consuming process, isn’t it? It consumes too much of manual hours. Also, how you know the employees are not honest with you or not. To avoid all this manual interruption; now-a-days most of the companies have started using “Cargo Container Security Tracking System” so that they get real time alerts if the parcel is tampered or if there are any long halts or route deviation. Using this system definitely helps prevent cargo theft in your company.

  2. I think it is also helpful that company / brand names or commodity are not listed on the shipping cartons. For example a large well known sunglasses manufacturer should not list their recognisable name nor “aviator sunglasses” on their cartons. This makes for an easy target for thieves.

    • Hassan, if you correctly managed your contract / insurance, yes they bear. However, even if you get the money back from your insurance or by claiming to the haulage company, it is never really interesting to lose his cargo.. As an example, I manage the shipment of industrial equipment for different plant in the world, and most of the time a delivery delay on site causes loss of savings. So my “customers” do not care who is responsible of the cargo theft, they only want their goods on-spot on-time.


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