“There are some things about cargo theft that haven’t changed much over the years and there are many things that have changed significantly including new methods, targeted commodities, and the use of technology to commit cargo theft,” said Scott Cornell, Travelers Transportation Segment Lead, Crime and Theft specialist.
To combat this common form of cargo theft shippers and carriers should take a layered approach to security over the road by using good policies and procedures. Policies such as:
- No unattended, loaded trailers, whenever possible; especially in high cargo theft areas.
- If it is unavoidable to stage/drop a load, consider installing landing gear locks as well.
2. Strategic Cargo Theft
Strategic cargo theft, or theft that uses deceptive means, continues to evolve. This type of cargo theft can involve unconventional methods, including the use of fraud and deceptive information intended to trick shippers, brokers and carriers to give the load to the thieves instead of the legitimate carrier. Trends include identity theft, fictitious pick-ups, double brokering scams and fraudulent carriers as well as hybrid combinations of these methods used together to create even more confusion. Cargo thieves often look for loads being brokered late in the afternoon on Fridays in hopes that time constraints and deadlines will lend to mistakes and less stringent vetting of the carrier. Thieves may even generate false loads and post them to solicit bids in order to obtain the information they need to steal a company’s identity.
To avoid becoming a victim of strategic cargo theft, companies can employ strategies that will help ensure consistent and thorough vetting practices of any carrier or broker they do business with.
- Research contact information and company information thoroughly through FMSCA, Internet search engines, third party vetting companies as well as industry associations.
Don’t hesitate to contact your customers and business partners if there is even the slightest question at any point in these processes. Often the additional scrutiny will deter thieves from pursuing the load in question.
Some cargo thieves are using “sniffers,” devices that help detect covert GPS technology, even those embedded within a trailer. Once a device is detected, they then use a GPS jammer to block that technology so it can’t be used to help law enforcement locate stolen goods. Others stage stolen loads in a parking lot immediately after the theft and wait to see if law enforcement will come in search of it.
Basic types of cyber-attacks are being used to aid in committing cargo theft. Phishing emails may be sent in an attempt to install Trojan Horse malware that can infect a company's system and grant access to sensitive data. This may allow cargo thieves access to pick up and delivery information, which they can use to print out copies of paperwork to commit fictitious pick-ups.
Implementing strong cyber security can help recognize and prevent many of these attacks. Companies should closely examine their websites and the information they make available to the public. Consider items such as:
- Is contact information for key people important to show or would a common contact be sufficient?
- Are you identifying current customers and/or referencing specific products handled?
Travelers monitors and tracks cargo thefts around the country through itsSpecial Investigations Group(SIG). Collecting and synthesizing theft data is critical to helping customers identify and avoid theft-prone routes. It is also very useful when assisting local law enforcement in identifying high-risk areas and locating stolen goods.
Taking Steps to Prevent Cargo Theft
Cornell suggests that fleet operators practice a layered approach to cargo security, starting with the development of internal processes and procedures. Then include regular training and awareness events for employees throughout the year.
"Everyone from drivers to warehouse workers should be trained to recognize, prevent and report cargo theft techniques," Cornell said.
- Usage of hard security devices, such as locks and seals,
- Leveraging appropriate technology,
More Prepare & Prevent
Taking steps to protect cargo can help prevent business interruptions. Learn about inspecting, securing and receiving cargo.