$5 billion. That’s the annual cost of this type of crime in Canada, a figure that adds to the $50 billion in losses officially reported worldwide. (The real number is likely much higher, as many aren’t reported for reputational and financial reasons.)
In Larry Young’s many years in risk control with Economical Insurance
, he’s seen the impact of cargo theft escalate, with organized crime employing increasingly advanced methods to steal shipments. “The criminals have upped their game, so we have too,” Young says. “Our fleet team works closely with brokers to give owners defense in depth — putting layers of obstacles in the criminals’ path to make theft more difficult and therefore less likely.”
Countermeasures range from simple tips (e.g., back rigs up to a wall so trailer doors can’t be pried open) to sophisticated solutions (installing geofencing software in trucks).
Larry shared the top five areas of risk that Economical’s fleet safety consultants concentrate on when providing action plans for transportation customers.
A “security first” business culture must be ingrained at all levels of the organization. This means providing formal, regular training on security systems, following best practices for transporting and docking, and empowering all employees to report suspicious behaviour onsite or en route. Losses that do occur should be called in to police as well as to the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s anonymous hotline for important data gathering.
- Physical space
Only authorized people should have access to yards, terminals and buildings. A thorough audit of weaknesses in this regard starts at the property line and moves inward to every asset. Recommended deterrents might include using:
- barbed, 7’ perimeter fencing
- strategic lighting
- electronic pass cards,
- security guards
- ID checkpoints
Certain parts of a terminal or yard can be restricted to required personnel only. Random and frequent sweeps of the perimeter ensures that signs of tampering or forced entry are detected in time, not to mention the presence of surveillance vehicles that may be casing the operation.
It’s important to prevent unauthorized access to bills of lading and software containing shipment details and trip schedules. The number of staff who have knowledge of such information should be limited and a strict policy of document destruction enforced, whether on-site or through a service provider.
- The tractor-trailer
There are many ways to thwart the theft of tractors and trailers from yards, terminals, truck stops and en route. This includes GPS tracking, tractor-trailer disabling systems and embeddable covert tracking at the pallet level, with jamming detection and cellular backup. King Pin locks and high-security seals can be installed on dropped trailers.
- The People
All new hires, including owner operators, need to be screened with such background checks as: criminal (police), medical (National Safety Code standard 6), and motor vehicle record (MVR). Every year, employees should sign a code of business conduct and driver responsibility letter that grants permission for and explains these checks. The company’s non-disclosure policy and breach outcomes should also be understood by staff.
In today’s increasingly violent world of cargo hijacking, drivers must be kept safe. Fleet operators can do this by providing training on detecting and dealing with signs of potential threats and considering the use of escort vehicles when drivers can’t avoid going through areas known to be vulnerable to attack.
When it comes to cargo theft, fleet owners really can’t be too careful.