August 29, 2014 | Industry Insights

Pharma Cargo Thieves Bolder with New Technology and Insider Info

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Pharma Cargo Thieves Bolder with New Technology and Insider Info

Full-truckload pharmaceutical thefts rose by 50% in 2013, and the average loss value rose 14.15% to $261,810, according to FreightWatch International data. Total pharmaceutical cargo thefts, including last-mile heists, more than doubled in number, with the average value of loss rising to $180,346 from $153,697 in 2012.

Two disturbing trends make combating pharma cargo theft more difficult, but knowing what you’re facing is a significant part of the battle. Insider information appears to be at play in some of the more notable thefts, but experts add that technology innovations are being employed by criminals as well.

In July, a tractor-trailer rig carrying $2 million in pharmaceutical drugs and narcotics was stolen from a Georgia truck stop when the driver left the keys in the cab and the doors unlocked while he went into a travel center to use the restroom. Investigators say it appeared to be a carefully planned scheme with a truck on standby that was used to swap out trailers. Following a tracking device installed in the cargo, police found the vehicle, but they suspect it was an inside job, where criminals were provided information on the cargo.

Insider information can provide more than just cargo clues. It can alert thieves to planned routes, stops, and supply chain and warehouse security systems. Criminal gangs thrive on these nuggets. If the information is good and operations run smoothly, they can steal millions of dollars worth of controlled substances without getting caught. Even GPS tracking devices planted within the cargo hold might soon be overcome by the technological prowess of thieves.

In an incident this summer, a tractor-trailer carrying pharmaceuticals was stolen, and evidence indicates the culprits tried to jam communications from tracking devices placed in the shipment. In June, thieves involved in a Florida heist were found to possess jamming equipment. Jamming technology, while not successful yet, may become a more common technique used in cargo theft, according to FreightInternational experts.

It is critical that drivers and trucking firms sign on to specific safety requirements as part of their contract and that GPS tracking devices be placed strategically on the trailer and cargo. Other defenses against cargo theft include using a team of drivers so the rig is always attended by at least one and installing unique locking/securing mechanisms for truck and trailer.

Roanoke offers stand-alone cargo insurance policies for property and liability as well as customized or generalized programs that are designed to match your specific logistical enterprise. Our policies cover not only cargo theft of tractor-trailer loads in transit, they also cover warehousing, stock throughput, and high-value cargo, among many other customized programs. We also offer a transportation intermediary program and critically necessary crime insurance, which covers employee dishonesty, theft, forgery and other illicit acts by employees.

We invite you to learn more about us, our experienced talent in this highly specialized area, our creative solutions, and the value we will bring to you and your clients. Please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE.

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