Experts estimate that worldwide cargo and equipment theft costs $30 billion to $50 billion annually. Security is a necessity today; with the nation on heightened alert, the transportation and air cargo industries must be prepared.
By its very nature, the transportation and air cargo industries place goods in a more vulnerable environment than when they are at a shipper's or receiver's facility. It's not like having your goods in a warehouse; you cannot post a security guard, install lights or a closed circuit TV or build a fence around your freight. Today many security conscious companies have taken steps to combat theft of their equipment and products.
Although there are some trends in what type of commodities are stolen, theft has affected nearly every type of product from toilet paper to pharmaceuticals.
Here are the cargo categories of note:
* Food and food products
* Consumer electronics
* Apparel (including footwear and accessories)
* Pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications
* Computers and related equipment
* Wine, spirits and beer
* Building materials
* Cellular phones
* Auto parts
Some of the traditional days and times of losses occur during the traditional weekend, Friday through Sunday. Holiday weekends tend to have a higher rate of theft due to facilities sometimes being "dark" for a longer period with limited personnel.
Geographic area also has a lot to do with theft and the likelihood of an event occurring. The 13 most prominent areas, accounting for 80% of the losses, are:
* New Jersey
* New York
Most cargo thefts occur when the truck and cargo are stopped in an unsecured location. A good rule is, "freight at rest is freight at risk."
Typical areas for these types of theft include truckstops, unsecured drop yards and restaurant/shopping center parking lots. Terminals and distribution center yards are now becoming popular places as well, illustrating a need for security within these areas.
All stakeholders that bear the burden of cargo should be involved in the security process as much as they can, as they all share in the monetary loss should a load go missing. At minimum, remember that high-security trailer locks prevent theft.
Shippers need to take care in selecting their transportation partners. Shippers should also consider the implications of supply chain/logistics decisions. Requesting specific delivery times narrows down the options available to the trucking company and driver. If you want a relatively local shipment to arrive at a specific destination early in
the morning, this will cause a driver to pick up the load the previous day in order to make the narrow appointment window.
It is important for companies to familiarize themselves with local and national law enforcement agencies. Taking the time to meet these agencies, specifically the personnel involved with investigating cargo theft, is important for recovery of your products and assets.
There are several task forces in Illinois, Georgia, Florida, California, Memphis and Texas that focus on cargo theft crimes. Networking with these groups is important, as they receive intelligence every day on stolen loads, and can assist in finding them if they are reported in a timely fashion.
Security of products is every company's responsibility. There are many measures they can take to secure their freight whether they are shipping by land, sea or air. Knowing that cargo theft is a real problem in the supply chain is the first step. Combating the problem with security solutions, intel, law enforcement involvement and analytics is the next step.
Nick Erdmann is business development manager for Transport Security, which has been providing high-security cargo solutions for the supply chain for over 30 years.