Best Practices for Preventing Cargo Theft

Preventing Cargo Theft

Theft is a crime of opportunity. Therefore, the more accessible the cargo, the more vulnerable it is to theft. Situational awareness is crucial to deter cargo theft.

How much cargo is estimated stolen every year?

According to the FBI, in 2019, there was a total value of $139,667,562 in cargo stolen in the United States. Of that, only $3,848,816 (2.8%) was recovered by law enforcement. The FBI lists the top three types of stolen property in 2019 as:

  • Recordings
  • Consumable goods
  • Computer hardware and software

The most recovered property type was aircraft parts/accessories, at 94.3% recovered. According to the statistics, the average theft is valued at $177,920.

Where is cargo theft most common?

The most common areas where cargo thefts occur are:

  • Parking lots
  • Commercial buildings
  • Highways
  • Truck stops
  • Unsecured yards

Tennessee leads the way with the most cargo thefts in 2019, followed by Texas, Florida and Michigan.

When is cargo theft most likely to occur?

Most thefts occur between Friday and Sunday, with frequency spikes over holidays.

How do you mitigate the occurrence and impact of cargo theft?

There are several best practices that drivers can use to help avoid being involved in a cargo theft:

  1. Include cargo security in your pre-trip inspection.
  2. Where you park is important. Use your surroundings to better secure your trailer, such as backing up against fencing, building, other trailers, etc. Park in well-lit, heavily traveled areas and look for security cameras.
  3. Don’t discuss your load or where you are going with anyone who does not need to know.
  4. If you think you are being followed, slow down and allow the vehicle to pass you. If that doesn’t work, get off at an exit that offers a safe haven to see if the vehicle follows. Call local law enforcement and report the incident if you are still suspicious. Then call your supervisor and find a safe and secure area to park.
  5. Try to have enough hours and fuel to drive several hours after initial pick-up before stopping to deter thieves from targeting your load.
  6. Use theft deterrent devices to help secure your freight.
  7. If your vehicle has to be left unattended, make it as short as possible; lock it up and take the keys.
  8. When you return to the truck, scan the area for suspicious persons or vehicles and adjust to the situation.
  9. Be aware and follow any specific company policies and procedures about security and preventing cargo theft.

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