Cargo theft can occur at any stage of the shipment process and can result in devastating supply chain disruptions. Stolen cargo can also result in great monetary loss, particularly when valuable goods such as electronics or pharmaceuticals are taken.
While it is difficult to completely prevent cargo theft, taking precautionary measures can be key in reducing the risk. Shippers should always prepare for theft before it happens, or partner with logistics experts like Red Kite who are knowledgeable about shipment security.
Here are some key actions that shippers can take to better protect their cargo and help prevent devastating shipment loss.
Verify Driver & Truck Information
“Seasoned” cargo thieves often observe a warehouse for days – or even weeks –to better understand its schedule. Once they recognize common staffing and shipment patterns, these thieves may use their own trucks to impersonate a driver, hoping the warehouse employees will load the truck.
As soon as a driver arrives to pick up freight, shippers should verify that both the driver and truck match the information provided by that shipment’s carrier. If any information does not match, shippers should call their carrier to confirm that the right driver is there for the shipment. It is better to be extra cautious than risk a shipment getting loaded on the wrong truck and stolen.
Utilize Tracking Technology
Using tracking technology, such as a GPS attached to freight containers, can be key in helping shippers spot cargo theft along their delivery route. If shippers notice their freight is no longer on the set delivery route – and the driver did not call to alert of any changes – they should contact their carrier immediately. If anything seems unusual or the shipment was, in fact, stolen, shippers should then report it to the authorities.
Even if cargo does happen to be stolen, tracking technology can help authorities locate and recover it. Stolen freight is typically very difficult – or even impossible – to find, but a tracker can provide key information as to where a shipment is and increase the chance of it being recovered.
Be Aware of Routes & Wait Time
Even though cargo theft can occur anywhere and during any delivery, some routes and wait times place freight at greater risk of theft.
Cities that serve as major shipping hubs, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta, often experience higher rates of cargo theft. Because these cities have many trucks regularly traveling in and out of the area, it is much easier for cargo thieves to find a victim and travel undetected.
Longer wait times also put freight at greater risk for theft. If cargo is sitting unattended for a long period of time before being loaded or unloaded, cargo thieves have more opportunities to strike. Weekend or off-peak deliveries, for example, typically have less staff on hand to help with a shipment, which increases loading wait times and the risk of theft.
If shippers have freight that will be routed through a high theft area or likely to experience extended wait times, they should take extra precautions and work with carriers experienced in navigating higher-risk deliveries. 3PLs – like Red Kite – can also use their large carrier network to partner shippers with drivers experienced in deliveries that are at higher theft risk as well.
Secure Your Warehouse
Trucks tend to be the most common target of cargo thieves, but warehouses – particularly those that are un-secure – can also be targeted for break-ins.
Shippers should have several security measures in place at their warehouses to help deter thieves, including the following:
- Well-lit parking lots and walkways
- Controlled access into shipping areas
- Surveillance cameras
- Locked entrances to inside the warehouse
- Secured locations for keys
- Regular security audits to identify areas that need to be improved
While there is no security measure that can completely eliminate the risk of theft, having a secure facility will help deter thieves looking for a warehouse that is an “easy target.”
Watch for Fraud in the Freight Arrangement Process
Cargo theft not only happens within a warehouse or during a delivery – it can start as early as the process of coordinating freight.
Some scammers pose as legitimate carriers or brokers and trick shippers into trusting them to transport their freight. Then, when the shipment is picked up, it is stolen and never delivered to its destination, or a truck never actually arrives to pick the shipment up.
When working with a new carrier, shippers need to watch for potential fraud “red flags,” such as being given vague company information or freight rates that are much lower than the market average. It is a good idea to independently verify a new carrier’s company address, website and other contact information to ensure they are legitimate.
Working with a trusted 3PL can also reduce the risk for fraud in the shipment arrangement process. 3PLs like Red Kite have extensive carrier vetting and monitoring process in place to ensure they are connecting shippers with only legitimate, trustworthy carriers and drivers.
Partner with a Trusted, Experienced 3PL
Partnering with a trusted, experienced logistics provider – such as Red Kite – can serve as a great defense to cargo theft.
3PLs have strong relationships with fully-vetted carriers that hire professional, trustworthy drivers who are trained in best practices on how to prevent cargo theft. 3PLs are also comprised of logistics experts who understand the importance of keeping loads secure and safe throughout the entire supply chain.
With decades of combined experience, Red Kite understands the important of protecting cargo and takes great care to help shippers reduce the risk of cargo theft. Red Kite also has a strong network of trusted, professional carriers who understand the devastating impact of cargo theft and place load security as a high priority.