Cargo Security: The Threat is Real

By Eric Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

We all know that one of the major safety issues we face is theft or hijacking of our freight. It'’s a problem that continues to plague our industry, and attempts by security and Loss Prevention folks may slow the bleeding, but it’s usually only a temporary fix as those who do such things find another way to manipulate the system.

The computer age was supposed to stop the increase in thefts, from metals seals to electronic seals, the paper chain of tracking freight and endless signatures and initials to show the chain of custody. According to “The Enforcer”, a transport Security company, cargo theft totaled in 18 million in just the final quarter of 2014, the last time statistics were compiled. Food and beverage items were the most stolen commodity and accounted for 24% of cargo thefts. Alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages were the chief targets in that commodity category, but cargo thieves frequently stole sensitive items such as produce, meat products, seafood, and frozen food and the ever popular cigarettes.

It’s no surprise that California has the most thefts, but not because it’s the biggest state, that honor goes to Alaska, the left side of the country comes in at the third largest state. California led with the most truck thefts of any state with 39, followed by Texas with 31, Florida had 26, Georgia recorded 14 and Illinois had 12, rounding out the top five. New Jersey was number six with 10 cargo thefts, followed closely with Pennsylvania with nine. When you think of Pennsylvania, you think Amish and farms and lots of land, but the state is also a major hub for North East Commerce and was targeted aggressively for a three-month period which cost 1.6 million in stolen cargo.

Overall, the total loss value was $11,262,877, Saturday was the worst day for cargo theft and Sunday was the least, the weekend itself accounts for 48% of all reported cargo thefts. The FBI states that until recently, cargo theft was not reported as its own entity, because most companies don’t report cargo theft to avoid bad publicity, higher insurance rates and damage to the company’s reputation. Since they are guess-timating the actual loss, the FBI figures it’s about $30 billion a year. Although any product being shipped is potentially a target, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, and especially computer& electronic components are current high-value favorites being re-sold on the black market.

We are also entering that time of year where prize merchandise is being shipped in mass quantities to meet the holiday demand.

If what you have read thus far alarms you, your concern is warranted. The FBI describes cargo crime as the “gateway” to other more serious crimes involving organized crime, public corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering and even terrorism. The latter of the group gets special attention from the Feds as it’s a way for terrorists to fund their evil activity and attacks.

Though the numerical data fluctuates from one year to another, it’s never at an even pace and those in the security business estimate that the trend will only get higher as more sophisticated measures are compromised and manipulated.

As Road Warriors, how do we combat theft? What are some good do’s and don’ts that you practice? We would also like to hear your experience, if you have been confronted with this situation.  Give us your feedback.

Most of all Road Warriors, let’s be safe out there.

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