A Look Into Today’s Cargo Theft Tactics

Last year, CargoNet recorded 10 theft incidents worth at least $1 million each, with cargo theft reaching over $175 million for the year. 1While some methods of cargo theft remain the same year after year, thieves are continuously finding new means to steal freight.  Below are just a few tactics the industry is currently seeing thieves utilize to seize cargo in the U.S. this year.

Fake Documents

The internet has been a immense tool for thieves to access information needed to steal freight.  From load boards displaying shipment information to company Facebook pages  exhibiting driver names, right down to carrier websites containing insurance information and permits, thieves are able to replicate the documents needed to pick up loads.

3D-Printed Security Devices

Thieves are finding new ways to cover up tampering of freight as well as its location and time of theft by investing in 3D scanners.  These scanners, which can cost a mere few hundred dollars, are allowing thieves to duplicate near-perfect security device replicas such as cargo seals and locks/padlocks to appear as if they were not tampered with, taking as little as 10 minutes to create. 2

Shippers are attempting to fight back against this means of theft by “placing and monitoring GPS devices in cargo, installing motion-activated cameras within vehicles and alternating the colors of ISO 17712 seals, issuing them in random order.” 2

Burner Phones

What is known as “burner” cell phone numbers (pre-paid phones) are given on documents and then discarded, as well as untraceable, once the shipment is picked up.1

Insider Jobs

Insider jobs are also very common in the trucking industry and come in many forms.  For example, trucking company employees have been known to utilize what they know about a shipment, not to steal the freight themselves, but rather distribute their information to thieves in return for compensation.  Drivers have also been known to participate in insider jobs, many staging their own hijackings, arranging to leave their trucks unattended at a specific time in which their accomplice then moves in, stealing the loaded truck in exchange for money.

Illegitimate Brokers

Coinciding with insider jobs are those thefts that the drivers participate in without knowing they are doing so.  Thieves will create a fake account as a broker and then hire a legitimate trucker to pick up the freight.  Once loaded, the thief will call the trucker and direct him to another warehouse, have him unload the freight, and pay him for his service, thus stealing the cargo. 4

Ghost Trucks 

Many tractor trailers that are on the road are very plain looking and easy to duplicate and that’s exactly what thieves are doing.  Labeled “ghost trucks,” these tractor trailers look legit but turn out to be untraceable.  This is where Road Scholar Transport’s awareness program comes into play.  Who would steal (or duplicate) a bright red tractor trailer containing 65 roses in conjunction with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation?  Or our 9/11 Rolling Memorial that contains the names of nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives as a result of the 9/11 events?

Unsecured areas

In 2015, 90% of US cargo theft occurred at an unsecure truck stop, yard, or other unattended location. 5

What’s being done

The recent large number of nut thefts sweeping California has shippers and carriers taking extreme caution and attention to security.  Last year, nut thefts in California alone reached a $4.6 million loss. 6Here are some precautions one company is taking:

*Trucking companies must provide specific information such as driver name, truck number, and insurance at least 24 hours prior to pick up. 7

*Prior to releasing their loads, the truck and driver are photographed, the bill of lading is copied, and their fingerprints are taken. 7

*Loads cannot be double-brokered.

*Loads may be equipped with shipping trackers.

It is important to remember that cargo theft tactics are always changing, becoming more sophisticated, and shippers, carriers, and other members of the supply chain need to stay up-to-date and constantly adapt to their environment, altering security measures.

Road Scholar Transport is a proud member of CargoNet, increasing our security measures and continuously pushing the performance envelope with new products and technologies with an emphasis on brand protection and on time performance.  From internal security gates to geofencing to satellite tracking, Road Scholar Transport incorporates the tools and products necessary for keeping your freight secure and has become a trusted name in the transportation industry since 1988.

Learn more about Road Scholar’s high security shipping here and visit RoadScholar.com for an LTL or truckload freight rate today.