Safety & Compliance

Holiday Season Prime Time for Cargo Theft

December 21, 2011

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Cargo thieves don't take time off during the holidays -- in fact, they may turn to more aggressive methods, say freight security experts.


CargoNet's analysis of historical cargo theft data shows that the rate of cargo theft increases over holiday weekends.

Freightwatch International also notes that criminal elements may adjust their tactics to get the product needed for fencing on the black market for holiday consumers. These methods are often more aggressive than traditional cargo theft techniques and often result in smaller volumes of loads being stolen, such as smash-and-grab style thefts at open docks and trailer-container pilferage.

Also, with cold weather upon us, trucks are being left running, which can decrease driver situational awareness due to noise, increasing the risk of theft.

Freightwatch International also points out that trucking companies will work to have personnel home for the holidays. This may result in driver swap outs over-the-road. Security levels can be diminished with additional stops and additional personnel entering into the supply chain.

Cargo Watch offered the following steps to help prevent theft and recover stolen cargo:

* Avoid having loaded trailers sit unattended over the weekend. If loaded trailers do need to sit unattended, be sure they are parked in secure areas.

* Make sure that both security managers and drivers have accurate license plate, VIN, and descriptive information for tractors, trailers, containers, and container chassis. Police agencies will need this information to open an investigation in the event of an incident.

* Consider deploying covert tracking devices in product and on trailers. If using tracking devices, be sure to geofence all stationary trailers that are not being actively monitored.

* Secure all tractors with high-security locking devices, such as air-cuff and tractor steering joint locks.

* Secure all trailers (loaded and unloaded) with high-security ISO 17712-compliant barrier seals in combination with hardened padlocks. Use kingpin locks for unattached trailers.

* Check to make sure that facility lighting, back-up generators, alarm system(s) and surveillance equipment are all in good working order.

* Never treat any alarm signal as a "false alarm". When targeting warehouse locations, cargo thieves tend to trip facility alarm systems multiple times before breaking-in to give law enforcement and facililty managers the impression that the alarm system is malfunctioning.

* Remove keys from all facility equipment, especially motorized pallet jacks and forklifts.

* Document and report all suspicious activity that occurs in and around a facility to security personnel & the CargoNet operations center. This information can be critical to law enforcement in the event of a cargo theft incident.


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