Cargo theft is still a problem for the trucking industry. In the past thieves and gangs would steal or hijack entire loads. However, the ELD requirement has essentially put a tracking device on just about every single truck moving freight around the country. This has caused thieves to change their habits as well. Instead of stealing a whole load, they will take a few boxes or a pallet off the back of the truck. Pilfering is harder to track, but not harder to stop. Thieves look for easy targets. Unattended trucks with loaded trailers over long holiday weekends. Dropped trailers sitting alone in parking lots. Trailers with only plastic seals on the door lock.
The most stolen products are food and paper products and household goods. Those items are easy to sell and once they have been used, the evidence is gone. Third most common stolen items are electronics, but those are easier to trace and so, harder for a thief to sell. We don’t carry food products, but we do frequently carry household goods and occasionally electronics.
A determined thief will bring whatever tool it takes to break into a trailer and take what they want. But the more obstacles that a driver can put in the way, the less likely that a thief will waste their time and effort on that load. There are some basic steps that professional drivers and dispatchers can take to ensure that loads are delivered safely and completely.
- A load at rest is a load at risk. Be aware of high theft risk areas. Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta are all in our delivery areas and are known high theft risk areas. If you are parking with a load in one of those areas communicate with your DM about where your parking location is. Use a padlock to secure the trailer doors and an air cuff on the parking brakes. If you are dropping a trailer, use a king pin lock to secure the trailer from being moved. The best plan is to avoid parking in those areas altogether.
- Don’t rely on a plastic seal to keep thieves out. There are methods that thieves use to open trailer doors without ever breaking the seal. Use a padlock along with the seal to deter theft.
- If you are picking up a high value load, get to the shipper with full fuel tanks and any personal necessities and required breaks taken care of in advance. Leave the shipper prepared to drive at least 200 to 300 miles and keep an eye out for any vehicles following you. Most thieves will stop following a truck after it becomes obvious to them that it won’t be stopping anytime soon.
- Don’t answer any questions about what sort of freight you are hauling, even if it only seems like casual conversation at the fuel island. No one except you and your DM need to know that information. Except for a DOT officer, of course.
- When you do stop for a break or fuel, take your cell phone with you. If something should happen, you’ll still be able to communicate with your DM and local authorities.
- If someone attempts to steal your load or truck, don’t intervene. Let them do what they are going to do and call 911 and your DM. There is nothing worth risking your life for in the trailer.
- Whenever possible park in secure and well-lit locations. Company locations like terminals and drop lots are the most secure with truck stops being a close second. Avoid parking at Wal Mart or large shopping center parking lots. Those areas are frequently targeted by thieves since they are usually quiet after businesses close.
Be alert, stay cautious, and arrive safely and without hassle this holiday season!