Cargo Thefts Decrease While Average Loss Value Increases and What You Can Do About It
When it comes to truck cargo thefts for this rolling quarter, there’s good news—and then there’s bad news.
According to FreightWatch, 178 thefts took place between February and April, a 25% decrease from the previous rolling quarter (this is excellent news). However, each theft averaged a loss value per incident of $245,101—a 98% increase from the previous quarter (this is not such great news).
Let’s look at the most commonly stolen products during this period. FreightWatch’s report indicates the following breakdown for the types of products stolen:
- Food/Drinks accounted for 17% of all truck cargo thefts for this period i.e. the majority of thefts.
- After Food/Drinks, Electronics and Home/Garden Products each accounted for 15% of total cargo thefts. In terms of specific electronic goods stolen, the majority of products included televisions, computers and computer accessories.
- Finally, for this rolling period, Metal accounted for 10.8% of all cargo thefts.
Now let’s talk about where these thefts are taking place. Geographically, the report indicates that 76% of cargo thefts occurred in only 4 states: Florida (38 thefts), California (36 thefts), Texas (26 thefts) and Georgia (21 thefts). But there’s a silver lining to this news too: the number of thefts in Florida and California actually decreased from the previous quarter.
In terms of value, Pharmaceuticals were hit the hardest: for this quarter alone, they suffered an average loss value of $5.6 million. Coming in at a distant second, Clothing/Shoes lost an average of $859,499 per incident, and Electronics lost an average of $420,585 per theft.
What’s important to consider is that 89% of all cargo thefts took place in unsecured parking areas, such as motel, mall, restaurant parking lots and drop lots. This detail should raise a big, red flag: it’s time to re-dedicate yourself to your security plan.
Here are 5 precautions you can take to protect your cargo—and disrupt the trend in truck thefts
- Make sure that cargo is never left unattended. If drivers absolutely have to leave the vehicle, ensure they park the trailer in a secured, well-lit area.
If a driver has to leave the truck, tell them to shut the engine. This may seem obvious, but drivers leaving the engine running while they’re off taking a bathroom break happens more than you think! Ask employees to park in areas where there are many people and cars moving in and out, and ideally, in an area with good lightning and in view of security cameras.
- Properly screen and train employees—and treat them well.
Make sure you know who you are hiring is trustworthy. Thefts often take place with the aid of inside help, so try to prevent these betrayals by heavily screening your drivers. Then, educate your employees about hijacking and how to prevent it.
Keeping your employees happy is key to leading drivers away from the temptation to betray your business, says Carl Tapp, a retired maintenance director for P.A.M. Transportation and the lead consultant for Solutions Advocates. “Treat your drivers right. They do a tough job day in and day out. If you acknowledge that and pay them a fair wage, they’re going to be less likely to steal from you.”
- If possible, set up driver teams.
Driver teams can be a great solution to unattended vehicles. If one driver runs to get a bite to eat, the other can stay behind and watch the vehicle. You can ensure that the truck will never be left alone.
Driver teams will also shorten the amount of time that drivers spend on breaks and hanging out in unsecured parking areas. Instead of stopping and taking a nap in a parking lot—and entering into a potentially vulnerable situation—a driver can simply switch places with his partner—and they can keep on going.
- Outfit your vehicles with the latest security technology—and keep using the old-fashioned tech too.
Study up on vehicle and shipment tracking and vehicle immobilization (so you can remotely disable a stolen truck) and implement them into your security plan. In addition to utilizing fancy GPS tracking and other high-tech solutions, slap on some king pin, air brake valve and glad hand locks, and paint trailer undercoatings a bright color, so drivers can more easily detect breaches.
Fun (and scary) fact: 65% of trucks in the U.S. don’t even have locks. Don’t let yours be one of them.
- Ask drivers not to stop for the first 200 miles, and point out potential hot spots.
Also known as “The Red Zone,” the first 200 miles of a trip are the most vulnerable stretch for drivers. Before employees depart, make sure to notify them of particularly perilous spots where cargo thefts have been known to take place.