Long weekends are notorious for freight theft. Warehouses are understaffed, and freight often sits unattended for days. Freight thieves take advantage of this, which is why freight theft spikes every long weekend. So don’t be caught off guard – start reviewing your security plan now.
Do a Risk Analysis
There are plenty of devices and technology available to protect your cargo; transmission locks, GPS, warehouse security systems. It’s not difficult to install security cameras or to hire two drivers to team drive so the cargo is constantly moving. The real question is: how much do you need to spend on security to reduce losses to an acceptable cost?
Take inventory of your current risk. First consider your risk factors such as:
- Value of cargo
- Popularity of cargo among thieves
- Cost to your business if the cargo is stolen (opportunity costs, lost profits, etc.)
- Warehouse location
- Time of week/year
- Will you be shipping with trusted companies or new, unknown drivers?
- Your company’s history of cargo theft incidents
Next, list factors that can help to mitigate your risk; create separate lists for things that you are currently doing, and things that you can add if necessary.
- Warehouse security system
- Cargo tracking devices such as GPS and geofencing
- Brake & transmission locks for tractors
- Trailer security such as barrier seals and kingpin locks
- Number of staff on site
- Driver-driven security practices
- Thorough vetting of carriers, drivers, and warehouse staff
Balance these factors; if you have hard data for each of the factors, you can run a statistical analysis. (If you’re using MyEZClaim, you can pull reports to show your history of theft, and then drill down by carrier, region, product, etc.) Even if you don’t have access to statistical data, laying out all the relevant factors will help you to estimate your level of risk. You can do this assessment for your operation as a whole, or for a given shipment or time frame (such as the Labor Day weekend).
Review your Insurance Policy
Insurance is complex – there are many different policy subtypes, so it’s easy to believe that you have coverage for something that you don’t.
For example, it’s good practice to carry your own insurance rather than relying on the carrier’s. However, carrying contingent insurance is very different than carrying primary insurance. If you carry contingent insurance, the policy will only cover you in the case that your carrier’s insurance policy does not. This may sound like exactly what you need, until you consider that the carrier’s insurance might accept your claim at a value of $0.50/pound. In this case, even if your contingent insurance covered the true value of the goods, you would not be able to use it.
Also, certain circumstances can void the coverage. For example, if the carrier was fraudulent all along, the insurance company will not cover you.
If you’re having trouble keeping tabs on multiple carriers’ insurance policies, look into our Carrier Wise software. The cloud-based system organizes all of your carrier’s policies, lets you measure your overall coverage, and alerts you before policies expire.
Research Risky Routes
Long weekends are a risky time for freight theft, so now is the time to reduce risk in other ways, such as choosing a safer route. Review regions which have historically or recently been the targets of freight theft, and try to avoid these regions. If you can’t avoid these routes entirely, instruct drivers to plan stops before or after risky locations so they can drive straight through theft hotspots.
SensiTech (formerly FreightWatch International) provides customers with several cargo monitoring and recovery services. They also post some free information about cargo security incidents and news on their website.
CargoNet provides members with alerts for thefts, suspicious activity, fictitious pickups, and identity theft. They also provide annual and quarterly reports detailing trends, as well as monthly reports listing cargo thefts by location. The subscription also includes several other tools for recovery and prevention.
Here’s a sample of CargoNet’s truck stop report:
Vet Carriers Now
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration runs a Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. You can check your carrier’s score against safety categories such as hours of service compliance, vehicle maintenance, and substance abuse. Reviewing your carrier in the CSA program greatly reduces the chance that you will be victimized by a fraudulent carrier.
Even if your carrier isn’t listed in the CSA program, there are still simple steps that you can take to verify your carrier’s identity. We previously wrote an extensive post with steps on how to verify your carrier’s identity. While it takes some time, nearly all of the methods in our guide are free.
Leverage Your Staff
Your staff are your first line of defense against theft, so make sure they know it. ICEPTS had the brilliant idea to print T-shirts reading “Vault Security Team” for all warehouse workers. This reminds you and your warehouse workers that the freight has value and must be protected. Second, it instantly identifies anyone who doesn’t belong in the warehouse.
Warehouse staff are in an ideal position to notice suspicious activity, such as parked cars or unfamiliar personnel. Encourage staff to report anything they notice that appears suspicious, and thank them for their notes, even if it ends up being nothing. Better yet, implement a cash-reward system for tips, and award any tip leading to an arrest with a cash reward. Also treat all security alarms seriously, even if it appears that the system is malfunctioning; freight thieves have been known to purposely trip alarms multiple times to coax staff into ignoring or disabling the alarm.
Protecting yourself from freight theft isn’t difficult, but it does take time and planning. Start early and you’ll be rewarded with a relaxing and worry-free long weekend!