With the long Independence Day weekend the chance of being a victim of a cargo theft increases dramatically. The new hours of service regulations that went into effect this week could make things worse.

Holiday weekends are notorious for showing increased cargo theft risks for transportation companies, shippers and manufacturers, according to logistics security services provider FreightWatch International. It warns organized theft rings are active and understand holiday weekends mean more loads are left unattended for extended periods of time. 

For instance, last year $2.5 million worth of cell phones and perfume were stolen in Miami, Fla. Two years ago a full truckload of pharmaceuticals was stolen from a truckstop in Troy, Ill.

This year, with the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday, many companies will be off on Friday as well, extending this holiday to a four-day weekend.

The new HOS regulations that went into effect Monday could make things worse, says John Simms, vice president and transportation risk advisor with HNI. "It's a field day for cargo thieves," he told attendees at last week's Fleet Safety Conference in Schaumburg, Ill. "We're going to make hours of service changes in the week that's the toughest operating week of the year with a holiday that's almost as important to a driver as Christmas. You're going to see people parking in places they shouldn't be with the new break rules."

Those places are likely to be less secure and easier targets for cargo thieves, he said -- especially if drivers are caught out of hours close enough to home for their spouse to come pick them up and take them home for the weekens.

Over the past three years, the Fourth of July weekend has seen an average of 5.5 thefts per day, more than double the annual average of 2.6 per day for the same time period.

FreightWatch recommends that logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up to date and in line with industry best practices for both in transit and warehouse operations. Both will be heavily targeted over the weekend.