Mitigating Cargo Theft Risk
Cargo theft continues to be a challenge to shippers, totaling an estimated $145 million in losses each year in North America.
1. Develop a plan. Establish security procedures for carriers hauling your freight. Ask drivers not to stop within the first 250 or 300 miles of pickup unless there is a real emergency. It's not advisable to allow loads to sit in trucking yards unless the shipping schedule necessitates it. If it's necessary to use a yard, make sure it's fully fenced, locked, and well lit.
2. Schedule Strategically. Work with your customers and vendors to establish transit schedules that prioritize security. If timing doesn't prioritize security, loads will need to sit in a trucking yard. Suggest different schedules to minimize theft risk.
3. Consider how carriers interact with drivers. Make sure your carriers are reliable, established companies that take security seriously and emphasize it to their drivers. When drivers believe they are guardians of valuable property, they're more likely to keep a close eye on your freight.
4. Use technology to your advantage. Utilizing covert tracking devices gives you a real shot at recovering a stolen load. It's important to place the device where thieves can't easily detect it. If you track trailer locations by GPS, you can be notified of theft faster and, in some cases, prevent thefts entirely.
5. Read the latest news. Regularly read transportation security or risk management-oriented newsletters. Join a freight security network or two to gain some potentially helpful knowledge and resources. Such networks can even help you vet storage yards and recover stolen loads.
6. Hire employees you trust. A significant number of truckload thefts are the result of inside jobs. It's imperative to know and trust your shipping and warehouse personnel.
7. Weigh all options. When you ship high-value loads, consider putting less freight on each shipment to reduce load values and risk of loss.
8. Stand out from the crowd. Consider using trailers with unique markings. The more unique the appearance of the trailer, the more likely law enforcement will be able to spot it on the road if a theft has been reported. Cargo thieves know this, which is why the majority of stolen trailers have minimal markings.
9. Verify the details. Many thefts occur by virtue of so-called fictitious pickups, where a shipper or intermediary has inadvertently sent a rate sheet to a thief impersonating a legitimate motor carrier. Make sure the trucks picking up loads from your shipping facilities have real trucking company names on them, and that the MC/DOT numbers on the tractors correlate with those names. Use safer.fmcsa.dot.gov to verify names and MC/DOT numbers of authorized motor carriers.
10. Leverage reputable intermediaries. To make things easier on yourself, use brokers and intermediaries who are freight security experts and understand what they do to promote security.
Source: Josh Hoyle, manager, risk management, AFN