How to Avoid Cargo Theft

Posted on November 30th, 2020
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How to Avoid Cargo Theft

Cargo theft is a truck industry concern that grows especially hot during the holiday season. We deal with it often in the insurance industry and it's a victimless crime that affects everyone because thefts affect the consumer with increased manufacturers pricing and so forth.

This type of theft has been noted to have increases yearly and usually find them on the rise during the holidays. The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates cargo theft costs up to $35 billion dollars per year. Some high theft areas of the country include include Southern California, Florida, Texas and the greater Atlanta, Georgia, area. Cargo thieves have become savvy. They replace locking and security devices with the same looking ones after they've broken into those existing bolts, locks, nuts or rivets on trailer doors. They have teams of surveillance staged at shipper facilities and track workers' schedules. They might even follow a tractor-trailer for five or six hours waiting for the driver to leave the tractor-trailer unattended. They will also look at truck stops near the shipper to observe trucks that load a shipper and stop at the nearest truck stop for dinner. However, cargo thefts are preventable as long as operations and safety departments or personnel need to work closely to prevent cargo theft. Here are some loss prevention tips that can help motor carriers and drivers decrease the risk of theft.


  • Limiting the number of employees who have access to shipping information is a good way to keep details floating around.
  • Setting up a reporting procedure that so company drivers and other employees can and will provide information about possible criminal activity.
  • Implement a “no stop” policy for drivers picking up containers for local delivery.
  • Prepare a driver handbook listing the rules so drivers can be held accountable. For example, rules should cover policies on stopping en route and parking loads in unsecured areas. Make these rules priority and enforceable.
  • Make sure each driver has a 24-hour phone number for management personnel that he or she can call in the event of an emergency.
  • Use padlocks on all pickup and delivery units, and require drivers to lock all doors when they are away from their units.
  • Either provide your own guards or hire a reputable guard service who conducts proper background checks on their guards.
  • Place the guards in an inaccessible area where they can monitor activities at your facility yet be secure and safe from assault. Make sure they know whom to notify in the event of a problem.
  • Conduct a physical security audit of your facility. Are you using lighting, fencing, and closed-circuit television to the best possible advantage?
  • Limit yard access after normal business hours.
  • Set up specific procedures concerning the type of documentation required before a driver is allowed to leave the yard. Hold guards accountable for obtaining this documentation.
  • Conduct lunch box inspections.
  • Keep updated records of all the equipment in your yard overnight, especially license plate numbers, containers and trailer numbers.
  • Invest in installing high-quality pin locks on trailers or containers that are left in your yard overnight.
  • Install time-lapse surveillance cameras in your yard; install them so they clearly identify a driver and tractor-trailer leaving the yard.
  • Consider installing fuel cut-off valves, tracking systems, and other security devices on your equipment. Heavy-duty padlocks should be mandatory on all trailer and container doors.
  • Paint tractor or trailer numbers on roofs so they are visible from the air.
  • Do not leave loaded trailers or containers in your yard overnight.
  • Do not accept late deliveries that you can’t offload that day.
  • Frequently check your yard at different hours.
  • Get to know the police officers who work in your area and get them informed of your procedures.


  • Always maintain to lock tractor doors and secure all trailer and container doors with a heavy-duty padlock.
  • Keep tractor windows rolled up until you are on the open road.
  • Always carry information on your person concerning the identification of the tractors, trailers, chassis, or containers you are pulling. These details include license numbers, container numbers, and physical characteristics. Law enforcement can’t act on a cargo theft without this information.
  • Maintain regular communication with your dispatcher, and let him or her know of anything suspicious or odd.
  • Do not discuss your load on the radio, over the phone, or in public – cargo thieves listen, too.
  • Try to not be predicable on your route and vary it if possible.
  • Avoid unnecessary stops.
  • When you need a rest stop, park in areas where other truck drivers are present. Hijackers don’t like crowds.
  • Stop only at reputable truck stops along your route – and don’t stop at the same location every time.
  • Don't stop on dark freeways or in deserted areas while waiting to make deliveries.
  • Never take your load home, and don’t park it in an unsecured area.
  • When possible, drive in tandem with another truck – it cuts down the risk of being hijacked.
  • Be aware of vehicles following your truck and of strangers asking questions about what you are carrying.
  • Be suspicious of individuals asking you to stop as a result of an alleged traffic accident. Hijackers frequently use this ruse to get drivers to stop. If you are unsure whether an accident occurred, drive to a police station or well-lit, busy intersection before stopping.
  • Be especially watchful immediately after picking up your load. The majority of hijackings occur within a few miles of the pickup point. Freeway on- and off-ramps are particularly dangerous.
  • If you are hijacked, or if your load is stolen, immediately notify the local police by dialing 911. Then call your 24-hour dispatcher.

Information adapted from the Western States Cargo Theft Association.

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive. This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. INSUREMART INC. does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Insuremart Inc. shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.

Trucking Insurance

Posted on:
November 30th, 2020