Did you know that 80 to 90 percent of freight is uninsured or underinsured? It’s true and in 2020, there were over 1,500 incidents of cargo theft that cost the trucking industry an estimated $250 million. With peak shipping season just underway, it’s a good time to be thinking about the steps that you can take as an owner operator or carrier to keep your freight as safe and secure as possible. Trucker Tools recently polled company drivers, owner operators, dispatchers and carrier owners like you to find out what you do to prevent freight theft. We also spoke to our friends at Loadsure, a freight insurer that offers cargo insurance on a load by load basis to owner operators, carriers and brokers for their tips on avoiding cargo theft, as well.
Check out these seven tips on keeping your freight safe and secure!
1. Park in Safe Places
Several of the folks who responded to our cargo theft survey told us that they avoid parking in areas that they don’t know or which seem unsafe, and they don’t leave their truck and trailer unattended for long stretches of time when they’re on an active load. In fact, One commenter advised, “Stay in truck stops and don’t go into areas where it looks unsafe to park. However, something still could happen.” Another driver/carrier told us, “park in secure areas as often as possible.” Others advised paying for a safe place to park. To find safe and secure parking in your area, tap on the Parking button in the Trucker Tools app to search for both free and paid parking.
2. Screen Employees
If you’re a carrier, it’s important to conduct background checks to screen all employees, including drivers and anyone else with access to your shipping information. If you think this sounds like overkill, keep in mind that 80 percent of theft involves help from someone on “the inside.” In a recent interview with our partner Loadsure, Loadsure’s Founder and CEO Johnny McCord reported that approximately 20 percent of all cargo theft in 2020 was pilferage, meaning some but not all of the cargo was stolen. Adequate employee screening also will help you prevent pilferage.
3. Use King Pin or Secret Locks
Several of the truckers and carriers who responded to our cargo theft survey recommended using king pin locks to prevent cargo theft and keep freight safe and secure. A King pin lock fits over your trailer’s king pin and prevents another tractor from hooking up to your trailer and driving off with your load. These locks have a strong steel housing that fits over most standard trailer king pins. Only the person with the key to the lock can unlock it. Others told us that they use secret/hidden locks, especially on high value loads.
4. Implement In-Transit Security Measures
Cargo theft can be pre-planned or opportunistic. Thieves or organized crime rings will often wait outside known shipping facilities waiting for drivers to stop. It also may be an inside informant who follows your truck. A good practice is to not stop within the first 200 miles on your run and to avoid freight theft hot spots. Sensitech found that 48 percent of all recorded thefts in 2020 occurred in just three states – California (20 percent), Texas (18 percent) and Florida (10 percent). Louisiana, New York City and Chicago also are freight theft hot spots.
5. Take Advantage of Technology To Keep Freight Safe and Secure
Installing alarm surveillance systems and using surveillance cameras can help you respond when theft is occurring and monitor your truck and trailer remotely. Asset-based tracking can help you track the load and where it’s headed, and also can be used to help you recover your trailer if it’s stolen. Trucker Tools has partnered with Anytrek, a leader in GPS-based asset tracking, to help you reduce freight theft. Our partnership allows fleet managers to view data from Anytrek’s TrackLight GPS Tracker directly in Trucker Tools’ free software platform for carriers.
6. Offer Cargo Theft Prevention Training To All
If you’re a carrier, it’s recommended that you conduct trainings around specific areas of cargo theft and promote awareness campaigns through emails, newsletters, routine meetings and signage at facilities. Training for any new drivers is essential and follow-up training is strongly encouraged. Be sure to educate drivers in hijack awareness and prevention. Training for situational awareness and prevention tactics safeguards employees, trailers, tractors, cargo and customers.
7. Arrive at Your Pickup Location Fully Fueled, Fed and Rested
In 2020, truck stops, drop lots and public parking were the top reported locations where theft occurred. The National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests that company drivers/owner operators arrive at the pickup location fully fueled, fed, rested and with enough driving hours to travel for six hours. Trucks and cargo are most vulnerable to theft when sitting idle. Don’t forget that you can find the cheapest fuel, food and grocery stores using Trucker Tools free mobile app.
For more tips on keeping freight safe and secure, check out Five Key Results from Our Carrier Cargo Theft Survey. To download the Trucker Tools mobile app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.