There’s nothing new about cargo theft. Ancient Egyptians were waylaid as they crossed the desert and when the oceans became the world’s transportation highway—pirates ruled the seas.  Before there was an interstate system, or combustion engines, trains were being robbed. Thieves have targeted tractor-trailers since they first traversed the back roads of America. While traditional methods of cargo theft continue to abound, there are newer schemes to be aware of… and prepared for.

What’s New in Cargo Crime?

Today’s cargo thieves have become information technology savvy. Gathering information from FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), insurance carriers, and other sites or posing as a shipper to gain private information from a trucking company, can lead to identity theft, falsified billing, and fictitious pickups. A cargo criminal may show authentic looking documents and steal a cargo laden trailer right from under the noses of those responsible for its care. Early in December, radioactive material was stolen in Mexico the old fashioned way—by armed robbers, but who’s to say sensitive and dangerous materials can’t become vulnerable despite government precautions such as UTT (Untethered Trailer) studies.

How Can Modern Cargo Theft be Prevented?

There are proactive precautions for preventing modern cargo pirating, but first be certain you’re prepared to stop old fashioned cargo theft. Trucking offers several suggestions including, “Ask local police agencies to make routine checks of facilities during holiday down time. Avoid having loaded trailers sit unattended when employees are not present. If loaded trailers do need to sit unattended, be sure that they are parked in secure areas, and secure all tractors with high-security locking devices, such as, air-cuff and tractor steering joint locks.” Here are a few suggestions for preventing 21st century cargo theft.

• Verify all documentation; if you’re uncertain, or anything seems out of place, make a phone call. Don’t be intimidated or fooled by an unscrupulous driver demanding expediency

• Use a GPS ID system to track trailers. This National Retail Systems Veriwis Trailer Tracking System is one example

• Join an information sharing theft prevention and recovery network such as, CargoNet

• Use specific dedicated pick up numbers or blind release

• Offer cargo theft rewards

• Search online for stolen cargo being sold at auction, eBay, or Craigslist.

Cargo theft is, and always has been, a fact of doing business for shipping companies. It may be impossible to curtail all trailer thievery, but with diligent preparation, foresight, and logic it can be reduced. Have you been robbed of your cargo—what happened?

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