Cargo Theft Amping Up in 2024

Thieves Target Small Truckers

Cargo thefts were up over 1,200% in the second half of 2023, with food ranked as the top stolen cargo. Now CargoNet has reported that just one day after the new year began, thieves engaged in a rash of cargo thefts in Memphis. In one example, on Tuesday, Jan. 2, three armed men approached the driver of a FedEx delivery truck and stole numerous packages before fleeing.

The same day, three men broke into a parked UPS delivery truck and exited with packages. Then, less than an hour later, three suspects waited for a UPS driver to leave the truck before entering it and making off with several packages. In a report on a local TV station, the reporter spoke to an over-the-road driver who had more than 30 boxes stolen from the trailer he was hauling when he stopped at a gas station in Memphis. Memphis is not unique; thefts like these were happening all over the country.

Insurers say that, while the traditional method is straight cargo theft, where crooks physically go out and steal the load where it sits, strategic cargo theft has seen the largest increase. These thefts are often tied to organized crime operations, some even located in other countries.

Organized cargo theft rings are highly sophisticated and use the same systems that the supply chain has put in place to make itself more effective, more efficient and faster. Instead of targeting one truck sitting in a particular location, organized rings use the internet to target a dozen loads from one company, electronically redirect the loads and steal all dozen in one operation.

These cargo theft organizations usually target small companies with 10 or fewer trucks. Why? Thieves can almost always talk directly to a driver and not have to go through whatever security measures a fleet may have in place. Small fleets beware – and take steps to protect your cargo from being stolen. Here are some helpful hints:

  1. Before accepting a load, verify that the people you're doing business with - the people who are asking you to tender a load - are who they say they are.
  2. Make drivers aware of these trends in cargo theft and urge them to be on guard for potential thieves.
  3. Whenever possible, park loaded trucks in well-lit, busy locations.
  4. invest in devices that make trucks and cargo harder to steal, such as high-security door locks on trailers, air cuff locks and landing gear locks. 
  5. Have photos of all your trucks as well as any paperwork, including bills of lading.
  6. Have a plan of what to do if your company becomes the victim of a theft and make sure your drivers understand and follow the plan. 

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