As globalization continues to increase the amount of freight shipped across international boundaries, so too does it increase the risk of losses through cargo theft. Already this year (2015)`, a spate of cargo vessel hijackings in the Asia Pacific region has resulted in millions of litres of fuel oil and, to a lesser extent, chemicals, being lost to the black market.
Meanwhile, cargo thefts from trucks continue to rise in number as greater quantities of high-value products are hauled along the world’s highways.
Without trying to sound flippant, a guide to foiling ship hijackings is not really within the scope of a short blog post, even if I was an authority on the matter, which I’m not. However, as your cargo is more likely to disappear while in transit on the highway or sitting in a warehouse, a few hints for preventing land-based perpetrators might help you keep your business protected.
Cargo Theft Update as at End of 2017
I originally published this article in April of 2015. As at the close of 2017, cargo theft remains a serious problem just about everywhere, with some 5,000 incidents being reported across the EMEA region alone in 2017. Not only that, but whereas big-ticket goods have historically been most at risk of theft, thieves appear increasingly intent on targeting low value commodities.
In short, the problem of theft from trucks is not going away, and the need for security and vigilance remains high. Criminals are getting smarter, especially when it comes to making use of digital technology.
Aside from the tips provided below, your company should take extra case as to what information is released onto the Internet.
Drivers in particular should be discouraged from discussing details of their trips and routes on social media. You can be assured that crime syndicates keep a close eye and ear on these channels to gain intelligence for potential robberies or truck hijackings.
In addition to protecting information, the need to keep cargo physically secured while on the road, or even at your logistics facilities, is as critical as ever. To that end, here are three cargo-theft prevention measures you should take if possible, to improve load security.
#1: Make Use of Technology
If your company runs a fleet of trucks, technology investments for prevention of cargo theft should be high on the list of security priorities.
With remote immobilising technology for example, you can render a vehicle stationary if it’s stolen or suspected of being so.
If thieves have decided to steal the truck along with its cargo (which they commonly do) they’re unlikely to continue the attempt if they lose their only means of getting the goods into their black market warehouse.
#2: Park Trucks Tail-to-Tail
This is a simple precaution your drivers can take when their away from base with a load and need to stop for their rest breaks.
Train your drivers to stop at locations where there are plenty of other trucks pulled up. Ask them to get into the habit of parking tail-to-tail or with the rear cargo doors hard up against a wall or other solid surface.
This protects the rear trailer doors from being broken into—something that can otherwise happen even while a driver sleeps in his cab. If you have many trucks parked in your storage facility with goods onboard, the tail-to-tail parking method can also help to keep vehicles secure in your yard.
#3: Don’t Forget Lo-tech Security Too
Even the use of plenty of locks and seals on your fleet’s cargo trailers can make the difference between a load making it safely to its destination or not. While simple measures like these may not stop the most determined and organized criminals, it will at least keep your loads safe from opportunist thieves.
Your drivers can make use of devices to lock trailer air hoses, kingpin locks to stop anyone from separating tractor and trailer units and even air brake locks that stop thieves from being able to drive vehicles away.
Finally, it’s important to remember that in a number of European countries, gangs of cargo thieves are not afraid to use violence to seize control of a truck and/or its cargo.
If you operate a logistics operation in that part of the world, make sure your drivers know that however valuable their cargo, not a single human life is worth risking in cargo theft prevention. Better to claim on a freight insurance policy, than to lose a driver through ill-advised heroics.
This post was originally published in April 2015. It has now been revamped and updated with more comprehensive and current information.