Stop, Thief!

What companies might not know about protecting their goods from cargo theft.


Anderson also suggests controlling access for vehicles that enter and exit the facility. This can be done by securing entry ways with rugged swing gates that can be secured to the ground when they are in the closed position and locked with deadbolt-type locks when a facility is closed.

Contract carriers like Wallace Transport make it difficult for thieves to get at high-value goods by the way they arrange the trailers in their yard. "We block them in with other trailers and make it difficult for anyone to pick them up and move them," says Wallace. "But if you're going to be trading trailers off, you have to have some exposure."

Wallace says thieves will use the yard trucks to move the trailers around if they have to, in order to get at the ones they want, so the goal is to make it as difficult as possible for them. This will increase the chances that they won't steal anything.

A combination of physical security, including a number of guards that is appropriate to the size of a yard, as well as cutting-edge technology, provides the best protection. Danbee Investigations recently installed motion detectors directly inside a company's fencing as well as digital video cameras that would be triggered to activate an alarm at the monitoring site. This is done with monitoring software that contains algorithms which analyze video images, real time, as they are generated. Alarms are raised if a predetermined alert event, such as a yard penetration, occurs.

An individual at the monitoring station would be able to remotely use the pan, tilt and zoom functions of the cameras to scan the yard. "If you had an unauthorized individual or tractor coming into the yard, you'd be able to e-mail that clip to every law enforcement official within 200 miles in seconds," Danbee's Brandman explains.
The experts also suggest segregating the loading and unloading areas from the general parking areas, as well as providing lighting that is sufficient to illuminate the entire yard.

Another aspect to yard security that too many companies are overlooking is who they allow onto the premises. Wallace, of Wallace Transport, relates the story of a recent theft from an associate's yard of three almond trailers with $160,000 worth of product in them.

"People came in over the weekend and signed them out," Wallace explains. "However, the guys that picked them up were not the guys that were supposed to. Somebody gave them the pickup information-the specific trailer and container numbers-needed to go and get them.This is a clear sign that it was an inside job."

Fortunately, the police found the trailers in an industrial area in Oakland and they immediately started looking around the vicinity. "The guys were so stupid that they left the trailers about six blocks from where they were re-working the product," says Wallace.

The moral of the story is that companies need to know who their shippers are. They also need to identify the trucks and drivers that show up at their gates. They should request proper identification, make sure that the company logos on the trucks are permanently imprinted on the sides and are not temporary placards and ask for the correct shipping documentation.

On-The-Road

"The most vulnerable part of the supply chain is while the truck is on the road," says Ryder's Anderson.

Cargo thieves will trail a truck for as far as 200 or 300 miles as it travels along its route. To make it easier for them to shadow the vehicle from a safe distance, crooks will often write something on the back door or place a reflective device on it that will allow them to see the truck from farther away.

The most critical part occurs when the truck has to stop somewhere along the way, wherever the driver has to take a break. Thieves will follow the vehicle to the rest stop and wait for the driver to exit the vehicle, thereby leaving it unprotected. Once he is gone, they go break into the truck and drive it away, fully loaded with cargo.
"It's the most convenient way to move stolen goods," says Danbee's Brandman. "Once they move it to an enclosed facility, they can have the product offloaded and put on another truck."

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