Cargo theft is a multi-billion dollar industry. Massive heists involving millions of dollars of stolen goods are on the rise nationwide. This is a big concern for freight-shipping companies as well as for the drivers. One hazard of truck driving jobs is that drivers risk being victims of cargo theft. Also, insurance companies pay out billions each year in cargo theft claims.
Freight heists include food, beverages, electronics, computers and related equipment, cell phones, appliances, building and industrial supplies, clothing, shoes, home and garden, auto parts, tires, pharmaceuticals, consumer care products, metals, alcohol, tobacco and general miscellaneous.
The value of this freight can be astronomical. The average theft loss is $350,000. A single cargo theft loss can easily be valued at several million dollars. However, it is not just high dollar items like electronics and pharmaceuticals that thieves target. Anything can potentially be stolen. This includes things like fruits, vegetables, toilet tissue, bottled water, meat, etc. In other words, any product being shipped is potentially a target. These items are often sold cheaply to independent grocers, independent merchants and often directly to consumers.
However, there is a danger to consumers in buying stolen goods. Electronics and other products may be tampered with and could potentially cause safety problems. Tampered or contaminated pharmaceuticals can be downright dangerous. Food stolen from refrigerated trucks and not properly handled and maintained can also cause safety problems for consumers.
These thefts may be committed by organized-crime rings or amateurs. In recent years, the groups involved in committing these crimes have become more organized and more violent. Also, a large number of thefts are committed by company insiders including ex-employees. At warehouses across the country, workers are employed in many positions that can be used to commit crimes. These positions include security guards, warehouse workers, accounting employees and others who know delivery schedules or any other weakness in the delivery route.
Warehouse and others workers often work with thieves and tip them off when a driver leaves a warehouse. The warehouse worker knows the exact amount, type and value of the freight the driver will be hauling. These workers also know the general route the driver will travel. Armed with this information, the thieves can simply intercept the truck anywhere along the route.
Most cargo thefts occur within 200 miles of the loads origination. For this reason many drivers are advised to travel at least 200 miles before stopping if hours of service rules allow. Thieves don’t necessarily need inside information to steal freight. They can simply watch warehouses and follow the driver. In these cases thieves simply follow the truck and wait for the driver to stop at a convenient place for them to take their target. This can be either a truckstop or rest area. When the driver exits the truck for any reason, thieves move in and take the trailer or perhaps drive off with the truck and trailer.
Many thefts occur at truckstops, rest areas or drop yards. Thieves wait and watch these locations. When the driver exits the truck to eat or take a shower, they move in. They either hitch the trailer to another truck and leave or drive off with both the tractor and trailer. In these cases, drivers lose their personal possessions as well and are often left stranded.
Fortunately, most cargo thefts are nonviolent although hijackings do occur. One way to avoid a potential hijacking is to keep the tractor windows rolled up until the truck is on the open road. Also, do not pick up hitchhikers and stop to offer motorist assistance on the road. There have been many cases where thieves have set up situations to give the impression that their vehicles have broken down. Alternately, thieves have staged the scene to make it look as though an accident has occurred. If you encounter this situation, by all means call for assistance for them. However, do not get out of your truck to offer help yourself. You may very well avoid becoming a victim.