Freight Insurance Coverage Logo

Cargo Theft Prevention: 7 Ways To Protect Your Freight

April 17, 2024
 By Jacob Lee
Cargo Theft Prevention: 7 Ways To Protect Your Freight
Last Modified: April 17, 2024
Stolen freight is an unfortunate reality facing many shippers. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of cargo theft prevention techniques you can use to ensure the safety of your shipments.

The Transport Security Administration (TSA) encourages businesses to commit to cargo theft prevention. Some methods include: 

  • Identifying theft hotspots
  • Increasing vigilance during the holidays
  • Being present when delivery occurs

Due to freight theft increasing by 53% between 2022 and 2024, you must ensure your loads stay protected. 

Losing shipments to theft can lead to increased costs for your business and dissatisfied customers who won’t receive their products. 

We’ll teach you how freight thieves operate, when and where theft most often occurs, and how you can implement cargo theft prevention strategies into your shipping operations. 

What Are the Types Of Freight Theft?

Cases of stolen freight can be classified as straight cargo theft or strategic cargo theft. Opportunistic criminals typically carry out straight cargo theft. This can happen when trailers in  parking lots and loading docks are left unattended. 

Strategic freight theft is a more thought out method of taking freight. Criminals will use deceptive tactics in the supply chain that lead to cargo being turned over to the wrong people. This can include posing as a legitimate business or providing fraudulent shipping documents. 

There are various cargo theft methods that can fall into either of these categories, such as:

  • Burglaries/hijacking: Criminals forcibly enter or take control of vehicles or facilities to steal cargo.
  • False emergencies/coerced stops: Thieves create fictitious emergencies or use intimidation tactics to coerce drivers into stopping. They use the distraction to steal cargo or the entire vehicle. 
  • Fake drivers and pickups: Criminals pose as legitimate drivers or representatives of shipping companies to fraudulently collect cargo from facilities or loading docks.
  • Commercial burglaries: Criminals break into commercial establishments, warehouses, or storage facilities to steal valuable merchandise or goods awaiting shipment.
  • Leakage: This happens when thieves steal goods from a load without anyone noticing. Over time this leads to large losses. Leakage is sometimes referred to as pilferage.
  • Grab and Go: When an opportunity presents itself, criminals will quickly seize items from unsecured locations.

All these methods show freight is always at risk of theft during some point in the supply chain. Because of the constant risk, you’ll need to do what you can to ensure the loads from your business are protected.  

A camera tower overlooking a cargo port

How To Implement Cargo Theft Prevention

Shippers aren’t completely helpless when it comes to theft, although you may feel like it at times. That is why we’ve gathered together numerous cargo theft prevention practices that you can implement to protect your shipments. 

1. Real Time Tracking

Real time tracking is mostly used to provide accurate information to customers regarding the progress of their shipment. However, this crucial piece of technology can also be used to prevent the theft of cargo. 

 Real time tracking can prevent cargo theft in the following ways:

  • Immediate detection of deviations
  • Quick response to suspicious activity
  • Protection against internal theft
  • Evidence for law enforcement

Modern tracking systems are highly accurate, so  transportation companies can detect any deviations in the movement of goods. This allows carriers to respond quickly when they notice suspicious activity occurring. 

Unfortunately, thieves might be working within the ranks of a transportation company. In such cases, tracking technology can catch drivers or warehouse workers in the act of stealing as they load and unload cargo. 

Even if the theft can’t be prevented, real time tracking information can be given to law enforcement. This will give them an idea of where the cargo was stolen and might even lead to the arrest of those responsible. 

2. Physical Security Devices

Technology works wonders when it comes to cargo theft prevention, but so do old-fashioned physical security devices. Even if a thief is able to break into a trailer or delivery truck, these protective measures can possibly slow them down enough to  catch them in the act.  

Good security devices include:

  • Cargo door lock
  • Air cuff locks
  • Landing gear locks
  • Surveillance cameras

Air cuff locks are a great tool that can be used to prevent access to freight that’s in transit. To prevent an entire truck from being stolen, air cuff locks can be used to prevent the brakes of a vehicle from being released.  

Similarly, landing gear locks can help prevent the theft of an entire trailer. The lock keeps the hand crank on a trailer in place, which keeps the landing gear in place.

Surveillance cameras are a great deterrent against freight theft. They can also be used to identify criminals and establish the time cargo was taken. 

If you plan on shipping overseas, then you should get familiar with ocean cargo insurance and how it can protect you. 

3. Increase Vigilance On Holidays

Thieves celebrate the holidays by taking advantage of the increased flow of cargo. As a result, extra vigilance is necessary to prevent theft during these times of year. 

Holidays where freight theft is more likely include:

  • Thanksgiving
  • 4th of July
  • Christmas
  • Easter

Any cargo theft prevention practices your business implements should continue during the holiday season. You may also want to implement additional employee training to help the workers at your warehouses better identify and report theft. 

4. Identify Theft Hotspots

Certain locations are higher risk than others. In congested urban areas, it can be difficult to pinpoint where people are coming or going. Overly rural areas or empty stretches of highway also pose dangers. It’s a good idea to identify these areas along a shipping lane and figure out ways to avoid or mitigate potential risks.  

If you’re concerned about cargo theft in a certain town or along a certain stretch of highway, it might be possible to find an alternate route. However, it’s inevitable that a semi will eventually park at a rest stop or that freight will be delivered to another warehouse. 

Therefore, you should make sure your carrier implements safe practices, such as:

  • Parking in well-lit areas
  • Keeping trucks and trailers locked
  • Reporting suspicious behavior or events

These are good indicators a carrier cares about the cargo they’re transporting and want to prevent losses for their customers. 

5. Choose A Reliable Transport Provider

The TSA, who overseas air, rail, and truck freight, recommends you choose a reliable transportation provider is essential for cargo theft prevention. As we noted above, it’s best to hire a carrier that you already have experience using. 

That said, you can still branch out and work with other transportation providers. Before picking one, ensure they have proper cargo theft prevention policies in place. Ask specific questions, such as:

  • Do they accept loads from other brokers or hire 3rd party brokers for loads? (a practice known as double brokering)
  • Do they provide tracking information for their clients?
  • What is their driver vetting process?

Their answers to these questions can reveal whether they have good safety habits. For example, should a carrier admit to accepting double brokering jobs, you may want to look elsewhere. Double brokering is often a common gateway to fraud and makes accurate tracking extremely difficult. 

Conducting due diligence will determine how well they protect the cargo they transport. 

6. Be Present At Delivery

As we’ve already established, thieves will take the chance to steal directly from freight yards and warehouses. In some cases, they may steal from the physical location of a business. 

The best way to prevent these scenarios from happening is by being present for delivery. This ensures that freight is never left unattended after it arrives at a facility.  

7. Obtain Freight Insurance

Even with cargo theft prevention measures in place, there’s still a chance your freight might be stolen. A good way to protect yourself from potential financial loss is with freight insurance. 

There are numerous types of cargo insurance available. You simply have to find a policy that works best for the needs of your shipment.

While most loads are sure to make it to and from destinations without being stolen, freight insurance gives you the peace of mind that you’ll be covered if something does happen. 

A dark parking lot at night

Where Does Freight Theft Most Commonly Occur?

Cargo theft is a problem that’s present all throughout the U.S., but certain states experience this issue more than others. We’ve included data on the top five states that saw the most cargo thefts in 2021. 

The graphic portrays the five states that had the most cases of cargo theft in 2021. Georgia had 6,080 cases of cargo theft. Alabama had 5,915 cases of cargo theft. North Carolina had 3,228 cases of cargo theft. Ohio had 2,940 cases of cargo theft. Nevada had 2,245 cases of cargo theft

Provided by Statista

Despite these trends in 2021, the leading states for freight theft changed the following year. More recent data from CargoNet shows that Florida, Texas, and California made up 46% of all cargo thefts in the U.S. during 2022. 

During this same year, household goods and electronics were the most common items stolen during freight thefts. Criminals have also been known to target refrigerated trailers in attempts to seize pharmaceuticals. Other frequently stolen items are food and beverages.

For more interesting data, read our article on air cargo insurance statistics. 

What Days Does Cargo Theft Typically Occur?

Cargo theft typically occurs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Holidays and the final days of a month are considered high-risk times as well. 

Freight shipments occur less frequently on Fridays and the weekend due to less available staff.  Security measures and staffing might be less intense during holidays. This opens up numerous opportunities for thieves to steal cargo. Due to less protection and oversight, it’s much easier for thieves to take cargo.

Stolen freight has been known to rise during the end of the month as well. Carriers are typically in a rush to get shipments, while carriers are reconciling their inventory. In all the chaos, criminals will take the opportunity to steal cargo before anyone can notice.  

Protect Your Shipments from the Dangers of Cargo Theft with Freight Insurance Coverage

Here at Freight Insurance Coverage, we understand the risks that come with moving cargo. That’s why we automatically apply insurance to every shipment we move. While our network of carriers is reliable and experienced, freak accidents are always a possibility. 

With insurance in place, you can rest assured knowing you’re financially covered for any accidents that may occur. Fill out your Freight Insurance Coverage quote to protect your shipment. You can also call our team (866) 975-0749 to learn more about our reliable carrier network and insurance coverage. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Freight Insurance Coverage
315 NE 14th Street #4122
Ocala, FL 34470

(866) 975-0749
Copyright © 2024 AFC International, LLC. All Rights Reserved