The red zone report on trucking says it all: You’ve got to keep your cargo safe.
We’ve all heard the stories. You know, the ones like that one guy in Alabama who had his plain white tractor-trailer stolen from a rest area as the driver was away using the facilities. That one guy is in every state.
Even if you leave your rig for only ten or fifteen minutes, that’s long enough for a thief to do his or her work. Likely that white tractor-trailer was taken when the thieves broke the peep window on the passenger door.
Are you as a shipper thinking you needn’t worry about that since you don’t drive? Think again. You’ve got to remember that a truck and its trailer are not fixed objects on a closed circuit TV. These are moving warehouses and must be treated as such. So no matter what side of the supply chain you’re on, you’ve got a stake.
It’s All Up for Grabs
Think all the best hauls are high-value loads like electronics and pharmaceuticals? Think again.
Remember when the trucker disappeared with over $400,000 worth of Russian king crab on its way to Seattle from Los Angeles? Apparently the trucking company documents were completely bogus.
Another outlandish example comes from Florida, where a gang of thieves managed to get away with six truckloads of tomatoes, cucumbers, and frozen meat. All told the value of the haul came to $300,000.
Even common items like toilet paper, diapers, and other home goods are becoming popular with thieves. The internet has opened up new ways of buying, selling, and trading goods, so offloading these materials has never been easier.
As freight theft increases, no industry is spared. If there is a full trailer, you’ve got to imagine there’s a thief out there ready to snatch it.
What’s in the Data?
In an annual organized crime survey, the National Retail Federation asked about thefts outside of store locations. An astonishing half of all respondents reported being a victim of cargo theft. The most common time was when the goods were en route from the distribution center to the store.
The FBI now also has uniform crime reporting codes that apply to cargo theft. Even so, some states only report on these codes in the general “theft” category. As a remedy, several private companies are attempting to efficiently and effectively collect cargo crime statistics.
As information has become available, the most obvious targets are revealed. Electronics and food, although lately pharmaceuticals have been surging. In 2010 food and beverages accounted for 21 percent of theft activity. As of 2014, that number had shrunk by more than half.
Why They Do It
Cargo theft is an attractive crime because the profits are high and the risk is low. Lets face it, how often do you hear of someone getting caught or severely punished for cargo theft? Although the freight is traveling on a vehicle, this is still considered a property crime, which generally don’t get much attention from law enforcement.
There is also great opportunity for organized crime. Many criminal groups operate out of cargo-theft hubs like Memphis, Tennessee or Miami, Florida. They run interstate rings that funnel back huge profits, which usually then get sent overseas to cartels and terrorism organizations.
Even city gangs are getting in on the action, happy to simply grab a pallet out of a trailer. Still other groups are even more insidious, staking out a warehouse for weeks at a time and targeting and tailing trailers. These groups have applied a specific business plan to cargo theft.
When it comes to staying safe, keep your cargo as safe as yourself. Next week we will cover in-depth cargo safety tips proven by the pros.