November 28, 2016 | Industry Insights, Transportation

It’s Time for Holiday Vigilance to Protect Against Cargo Theft

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Peak season for higher-than-normal cargo thefts is in full swing, particularly during holiday weekends when transportation companies, shippers, and manufacturers need to be on maximum alert. Organized theft rings recognize that shipments during holiday weekends can be left unattended for prolonged periods of time. Additionally, according to FreightWatch International, the spike in theft activity during the peak season, which typically kicks off after Labor Day and runs through December, is due to the “surge” of goods flooding the supply chain ahead of “Black Friday,” the day after the Thanksgiving retail shopping extravaganza.

FreightWatch estimates that in the last six years the transportation industry has experienced more than three thefts a day during the Thanksgiving weekend. This represents an increase of 27% over the annual average of 2.4 thefts per non-holiday days since 2010. Electronics and clothing and shoe shipments are among the increased targeted goods for cargo thieves.

2016 Third-Quarter Stats

So far, FreightWatch recorded a total of 193 cargo thefts in 2016’s third quarter. California ranked as the top state in Freight Watch’s numbers with 38% of total thefts in the quarter, followed by Texas with 16% of the total. Of the 193 thefts in the quarter, 75% of them occurred in unsecured parking locations, FreightWatch says, with many cases involving either direct theft by the driver; the driver’s voluntary collusion or complicity in the crime; or a deceptive criminal posing as a legitimate carrier resource, known as a fictitious pickup. In a fictitious pickup, criminals use false identification or bogus carrier names to pose as legitimate truck drivers to trick companies into handing loads over to them, which they subsequently sell on the open market. The Internet has facilitated this criminal practice, as it’s easy for thieves to set up online phony companies to win transportation bids and obtain truck freight insurance.

Mitigating Fictitious Pickups of Cargo

To thwart cargo theft by a fictitious pickup, there are practices you can implement including:

  • Subscribe to a reporting service to monitor area thefts and promptly report attempts and incidents of fictitious pickup to law enforcement agencies.
  • Validate and vet third parties including carriers. Work together and communicate frequently with all members of your supply chain.
  • Evaluate risk and reduce liability by screening job applicants as well as current employees, including accessing their driving history reports.
  • Use technology such as intelligent routing, telematics, real-time monitoring, geo-fencing, GPS and shipper/carrier communication protocols to maintain chain of custody for cargo.
  • Prior to releasing cargo, request and inspect both a government-issued and company-issued identification from the driver in addition to the driver’s US DOT Medical Examiners Certificate. Capture biometric information such as a fingerprint and take a close-up photo of the driver to get a clearly visible picture of the face. Check all documentation such as bills of lading for accuracy and scan. Photograph truck and license plate, carefully noting tags, ID numbers, and signage. Remember to securely handle and store all collected personal information to protect privacy.

Also important is making sure to review your insurance program so that you are properly covered in the event of cargo theft. Roanoke Trade provides a full spectrum of insurance products, including legal liability products that address the exposures to logistics service providers and intermediaries that may result from theft and fraud, and cargo insurance that protects shippers from financial loss. To speak to a Roanoke specialist about your insurance protection, please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653).

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