Cargo theft is on the rise and is a growing concern with owner/operators and fleet drivers alike. Even with so many communication apps and hardware available to the modern truck driver, thieves seem to be able to keep up with changing safety tactics and mark huge profits. Law enforcement groups estimate it’s in the billions of dollars each year.
Most often freight theft occurs while trucks are unattended at truck stops or while waiting to be picked up by drivers at intermodal hubs. But recently, during the down-turned economy, thieves are getting bolder and are performing hijackings on defenseless truck drivers.
Trucking companies have policies and procedures for their drivers to utilize to prevent cargo theft, as well as procedures to follow in the event of a cargo theft or hijacking, but sometimes there needs to be more information available to truck drivers that they can memorize. Just make sure you follow every safety policy your company sets out, or this could mean extra legal hassles later.
Here’s how to avoid cargo theft and being hijacked:
If your Hours of Service Rules allow, try and travel at least 200 miles before stopping after picking up freight. Law enforcement agencies have noted that most cargo thefts occur within 200 miles of the loads origination.
Always take note of any vehicles that appear to be following you for longer than normal.
Hijacking crews usually work in separate groups: 2 each in a rental car and an unhitched tractor (known as a “bobtail”) as the fifth. If you notice bobtails following you for many miles, to be on the safe side call into your dispatcher to make sure he’s aware of the situation.
Be especially cautious and aware of your surroundings on freeway on and off ramps as these are out of view of road traffic and present opportunities for crews to pull alongside you. Avoid over-use of cell phones or GPS units that may distract you.
Whenever possible if hours of service allow, you should go directly to your delivery point without making any stops.
Use kingpin locks to secure your trailer. Find good quality locks here.
Do not tell strangers at truck stops or lounges what you are carrying or discuss your cargo on CB radio.
If you have regular routes try to somewhat vary your route from time to time.
Do not park near deserted locations while waiting to make deliveries or taking off hours.
When stopping for the night, try parking near a modernized truck stop that will have surveillance and good lot lighting if possible.
Do not try to protect your cargo in the event of a theft. You are never to risk your life to protect a load. Cooperate with the demands of the thieves and you might avoid being injured. Once the incident is over, give law enforcement officers as much information as you can.
Also, to avoid a physical incident after a theft or hijacking occurs, make sure to monitor your vital signs for elevated blood pressure, temperature, and physical shock. These can sneak up on truck drivers with health problems and do irreversible damage to your body. If you feel unstable or sick afterward in any way, please seek immediate medical attention.
Stay safe out there, truckers!