March 24, 2014 | Industry Insights

Embedded GPS Devices Instrumental in Preventing Cargo Thefts, Vetting Drivers Also Key

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Embedded GPS Devices Instrumental in Preventing Cargo Thefts, Vetting Drivers Also Key

Last fall, FreightWatch Intelligence Center released a report citing the theft of cargo during a shipment of frozen seafood making its way from Massachusetts to California. Unbeknownst to the driver handling the shipment, the truck was embedded with a GPS locator that tracked its every movement as he handed off the trailer filled with product to his buddy who he had scheduled to meet up with in Georgia. The friend took the cargo to Florida while the truck driver made his way to Jackson, Missouri where he reported the stolen load to his dispatch.

Once the driver reported the cargo theft, the GPS kicked in and found product in Doral, Florida where, with the help of law enforcement, the frozen seafood was recovered untouched. Case solved.

In another incident earlier last summer, a tractor, trailer, and cargo of vitamin supplements were stolen from a parking lot located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The cargo involved consisted of 46 skids of vitamin products, valued at approximately $180,000.00. Both the tractor and trailer were still at large when a PCSC Pharma Alert was issued.

The takeaway from these events is clear: While your assets are in-transit, be sure they are safely secured and being consistently monitored. Having embedded GPS tracking in all your vehicles is key in helping to prevent lost cargo due to theft, and should be used to its full extent possible – both while the cargo is transit and in stationary storage. In addition, a secondary but equally beneficial outcome with GPS locators installed on your transportation vehicles is that you may be eligible for a reduction on your theft deductible on your Marine Cargo insurance policy.

The case of the recovered frozen seafood not only underscores the importance of implementing robust and prudent loss control strategies, but it also underscores the critical need to thoroughly vet your drivers (and all your employees with access to product). In this specific incident, the driver had a driver’s license from Texas but a Miami phone number, which should have triggered further investigation. When checking drivers, be sure to screen them carefully, including performing thorough background checks and pre-employment verification and looking for clean driving records. Also, ensure that all employees go through security training, including educating truck drivers on hijack awareness and prevention. Training should also involve periodic performance assessments to help improve a driver’s skills.

Cargo Crime on the Rise

It’s estimated that cargo crime accounts for direct merchandise loss of $15 to $30 billion annually in the United States, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), with these figures rising every year. This is due to the tremendous amount of complexity throughout the supply chain, which creates a high risk for cargo theft that’s exacerbated by a growing number of people looking to exploit this vulnerability. Not only as shipper do you have the costs involved with the stolen shipment, but you also risk losing additional business opportunities as well as facing brand reputational damage as a result of the theft.

Roanoke Trade is a leading provider of insurance and surety solutions for transportation and logistics providers. We can provide you with both risk mitigation and risk transfer programs and strategies to protect your cargo in the event of a loss such as theft, and help you stem losses from occurring in the first place.

Sources: FreightWatch, NCIB

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