Cargo Theft: Don’t Be a Victim

800px-Truck_trailer_loading_dock_-_Flickr_-_Joost_J._Bakker_IJmuidenCargo theft is a serious issue that has become even more of a problem over the last several years.  The numbers from the last few years don’t show an encouraging trend, either.  Cargo thefts went up 12% from 2008 to 2009, and added up to over $38 million of goods.  The trend in the early numbers of 2010 showed that perhaps even tripling, and while even more recent numbers showed the number of thefts dropped from 2013 compared to 2012. However, the average value of the theft actually went up a whopping 27%, according to a report from FreightWatch International. In other words, cargo theft remains a big time business and drivers need to know how to protect themselves.

What gets stolen?

While cargo theft can hit any carrier, there are certain products that seem to be hit more often than others.  According to FreightWatch, food and drink loads bring in the highest number of thefts, at approximately 31% of what’s been hit so far this year.  This includes meat, fruit, alcohol, and energy drinks – so a wide variety.

Not surprisingly, electronics also came in pretty high, with 11% of all cargo thefts falling into this type of load.  This includes computers, electronics, and TVs although they barely beat out building and industrial cargo loads which made up a full 10% of loads stolen.  This shouldn’t be taken lightly as many other types of cargo loads from home and garden materials to auto parts, clothing, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical cargo loads have also all been stolen at some point this year.

While caution and common sense should always be exercised, it is interesting to note that six states have combined for nearly 80% of all thefts this year: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and New Jersey.  Carriers need to be especially vigilant in these states.

What can you do to prevent cargo theft?

There are several important steps you can take to help protect from cargo theft.

1. Watch out for anyone or any situation that looks shady.  Take special care in the six states previously mentioned, and also have extra awareness on Fridays and Saturdays – by far and away the two days that see the most cargo theft, according to CargoNet.

2. If you’re hauling a high-target load, don’t mention it on the radio, in the truck stop, the lot, etc.

3. Use prevention methods like kingpin locks or landing gear.  Cheap padlocks don’t do as well, but a good lock on landing gear will offer a higher level of security.

4. Understand loading and unloading procedures. This is important to avoid deceptive pick-ups. It will also give you the ability to recognize when something is amiss.

5. Adding a GPS tracker is also an excellent idea in order to track a cargo load if it does get grabbed despite all other precautions.

Just taking these few steps can go a long way to keeping you free of cargo theft worries.

If you are the victim of a theft, you can report it by calling 1-888-595-CNET (2638).