The Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) reported a five-year high in cargo incidents in 2015 with a large percentage of growth in freight thefts year over year1. The average value per cargo theft incident, occurrences when merchandise is stolen while being stored or transported, was about $187,490 in 20152.
Sandor Lengyel, former head of the New Jersey State Police Cargo Theft Unit and current Director of Security at NFI, said, “cargo theft is a huge problem with $25-50 billion dollars of products stolen annually in the United States alone. It’s a growing trend around the world, affecting all modes throughout the supply chain.”
Cargo theft is a significant risk; however, with the right supply chain partner, proper training, and advanced equipment shippers can mitigate that risk and protect operations.
Cargo Theft: When, Where, and What
Cargo theft is a risk no matter where cargo is, but areas with more modes of transportation like ocean ports and rail yards are more susceptible to theft. California, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Georgia had the most reported cargo thefts in 20152.
The possibility of theft can alter based on the day of week. Most cargo thefts occur between Friday and Saturday. In addition, holiday weekends can elevate cargo theft by 40%3. All types of products are at risk of being stolen, but food and clothing have historically led as the most stolen freight merchandise.
Trailer Theft Tops the List
Trailer theft is the most commonly reported cargo theft occurrence. Most often, trailer theft occurs in unsecured yards at truck stops or while trucks are parked in unlocked locations. To avoid these instances, trailers should never be left in unsecured locations. By working with third-party logistics provider that prioritizes security, it can ensure that trucks always have a place to stop in secured and fenced yards throughout their hauls. Parking in a secured location is part of a multilayer security approach, which eliminates easy avenues for thieves to steal a trailer. Many fenced yards have employed guards or cameras guarding the yards. There are also various locking devices that can be installed directly to the trailer to make it more difficult for thieves to hook a suspect tractor or open any doors. Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings, ensure their tractor and trailers are locked, and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities immediately.
Warehouse Theft Prevention
Warehouse burglaries also top the list of cargo theft avenues. Warehouse managers can take steps to mitigate this risk by ensuring that bay doors are closed at all times when not in use. Cameras, access control, and alarm systems should also be utilized to eliminate possibilities for both internal and external thefts. Properly training employees can help improve security processes. It’s important that when looking for new warehouse locations due diligence is completed while reviewing a security plan. Sophisticated 3PLs can provide security reviews to ensure plans are in place to deter theft. Based on requirements and products, they can also provide suggestions on ways to improve security as well as utilize standard operating procedures that have proven to be successful in the past.
Cargo theft is a risk that shippers and carriers take while transporting freight; however, an experienced, knowledgeable and secure operation can decrease the potential for theft to occur while in transit or within a warehouse.