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Battling Cargo Theft? Here Are 5 Tactics to Keep an Eye On

Battling Cargo Theft? Here Are 5 Tactics to Keep an Eye On
The methods employed by cargo thieves are advancing. While they have traditionally focused on stealing food and drink, they are now targeting high-value electronics and other items that can be quickly sold on the underground market. As a result, almost any item can now be considered fair game by these opportunistic criminals. To safeguard against such threats, companies must stay up to date with the latest techniques and be aware of their vulnerabilities to prevent any possible cargo theft.
Here are five methods that thieves use to steal goods.

Straight Cargo Theft

A constant danger is that of “straight theft,” or the outright stealing of goods from its storage place. Theft syndicates operating in the cargo market are after anything of value that can be sold fast. There are several places, such as truck stops, parking lots, roadside parking, drop lots, and vacant retail parking lots on the weekends, where cargo might be left unattended. Thefts from refrigerated trucks are not uncommon, especially if the drivers fail to properly secure the goods. Those trailers with no or little security measures in place are more likely to be broken into.
Shippers and carriers should employ many layers of security measures while transporting goods over the road to fight this prevalent type of cargo theft. Programs that include:
  • Wherever feasible, avoid leaving loaded trailers alone, especially in locations where cargo theft is prevalent.
  • Employ air cuff locks and high security back door locks.
  • Consider fitting landing gear locks as well if staging or dropping a cargo is unavoidable.

Strategic Cargo Theft

The practice of strategically stealing goods, often known as “deceptive theft,” is always evolving. Unusual means, such as deception and false information, are often used in this sort of cargo theft to fool shippers, brokers, and carriers into handing over the consignment to the criminals instead of the genuine carrier. Identity theft, fake pick-ups, double-brokering schemes, fraudulent carriers, and hybrid combinations of these tactics are on the rise and only serve to further muddy the waters. Friday afternoons are prime time for cargo thieves, who know that due to deadlines and stress, mishaps and lax carrier screening are more likely to occur. Identity thieves may go so far as to create phony cargoes and put them up for bids in an effort to scoop up the details they need to impersonate a legitimate business.
Companies may protect themselves from strategic cargo theft by instituting measures that guarantee continuous and comprehensive vetting methods on the part of any carrier or broker they work with.
  • You can learn a lot about a firm and the people who work there by doing some digging through the FMSCA, Google, third-party vetting services, and trade groups.
  • Collaborate closely with shippers to verify the driver’s identity, the vehicle and trailer being utilized, and the validity of the pick-up number at the time of pickup.
  • If there is any uncertainty at any stage of these procedures, please do not hesitate to contact your customers and business partners. The increased visibility deters most would-be burglars from targeting the cargo.

Use of Sniffers

“Sniffers,” gadgets that can identify hidden GPS systems (even those within a trailer), are being used by certain cargo thieves. Upon detection, they employ a GPS jammer to disable the device’s functionality, rendering it useless to police authorities in their pursuit of stolen property. Some people who steal will put their goods on display in a parking lot and hope that the police will come looking for them.


Cargo theft is being aided by the most basic forms of cyberattacks. For example, Trojan Horse malware might be transmitted via phishing emails to infiltrate a company’s network and get access to private information. As a result, cargo thieves may gain access to pick-up and delivery details and use that data to fabricate pick-ups by printing out fake documentation.
Several of these assaults may be recognized and avoided with proper implementation of cyber security. Business entities should carefully evaluate their online presence and the data they make available to customers. Think about things like:
  • How crucial is it to provide the contact details of essential persons, or would a common contact suffice?
  • Are you naming actual clients and/or citing concrete goods dealt with?


Improved industry reporting in recent years has made pilferage problems more widely acknowledged. Pilferage has always been the bigger portion of the iceberg just below the surface albeit it has recently become more obvious. There is sometimes a delay in the discovery that a theft has even occurred since the drivers might not become aware of it until they get to the delivery location, after making many stops along the way. As a result, if the motorist is unclear of where the theft took place, authorities could be reluctant to submit a case.
Businesses should mandate that drivers perform walk-around inspections of their vehicles following each stop, checking the trailer doors and seals for indications of theft. This kind of theft may be avoided by using high-security back door locks or even premium padlocks.

Travelers’ Special Investigations Group keeps an eye on and records cargo thefts across the nation (SIG). To assist consumers in identifying and avoiding theft-prone routes, data collection and analysis on theft are essential. Also, it helps local law enforcement locate stolen property and identify high-risk regions, which is incredibly helpful.

Final Thoughts

Cargo theft is a serious issue that affects businesses, organizations, and people all over the world. The best way to protect your cargo is to stay informed of the different types of theft out there and how they work. By understanding the tactics used by thieves, you can better plan for prevention and be prepared with countermeasures if needed. With vigilance and strategic security measures in place, you can stay one step ahead of any potential threats.