Cargo Theft: Tips on Keeping Your Freight Safe

It only takes thieves seconds to steal a tractor trailer, accounting for over $15 billion in cargo theft each year in the United States and leading to product recalls/health alerts, hits to your company’s brand, financial losses as well as lawsuits and more.  While we have seen patterns in cargo theft over the years, a company never knows when it is going to hit so it’s best to take precautions at all times.

Keeping Your Freight Safe


One of the biggest factors in preventing cargo theft revolves around making sure that drivers are properly trained in cargo theft risks and preventative measures.  These include keeping in close contact with dispatch with updates, never leaving the vehicle unattended and if needed, make sure that the truck and trailer are locked and in a secure location, taking extra caution on weekends, as well as being aware of vishing scams, where a thief will call the driver pretending to be from a reputable company, asking for personal information.

Background Checks

With insider thefts being of large concern within the industry, it is important that employers conduct background checks, not only on their drivers, but all employees coming onboard.  Regular screening checks are highly recommended.


Thieves are constantly adapting to newer technology being used to help monitor and stop cargo theft.  It is important to keep up-to-date and add new and improved features to your fleet.

As the Journal of Commerce notes, “The most sophisticated electronic shipment tracking systems are customized, interactive, transparent, available 24/7 and allow users at any time to see where a shipment is and what it consists of — down to individual item descriptions, quantities, product codes, vendor or consignee identities, and countries of origin and destination.  They provide automatic alerts for key events (loading, sailing, arrival and delivery) and allow customers to query their shipments online using purchase order numbers and SKU product codes.  Such systems are password-protected and encrypted for added security.  As a result, shippers always know the status of the shipment and can immediately identify any disruption that requires remedial action.” (1)

Additionally, the use of geofencing “is becoming more widespread.  In it, the carrier essentially puts a virtual “fence” around the route the load is scheduled to travel from pickup to delivery.  A Global Positioning System tracking device allows the carrier and shipper (marine, truck or rail for intermodal methods) to follow the load along the route.  All parties are alerted the moment the load veers off the planned route or the device itself is impacted, initiating immediate remedial action to recover the shipment.” (1)

Trucking companies and warehouses should also be equipped with surveillance systems.

Tamper-evident Seals

Those shippers with high-security products, such as food and pharmaceuticals that can be easily altered and pose large health concerns if ingested, should secure their products with tamper-evident seals.

Shipper Responsibility

Not only do carriers hold responsibility for preventing cargo theft during transport but shippers as well.  Shippers need to be aware of fictitious pickups and always vet out carriers before entrusting them with your freight.  Often times, shippers will utilize a 3rd party or load board and are unsure of who will show up at their dock and whether they are a qualified carrier.

The internet has been an immense tool for thieves to access information needed to steal freight.  From load boards mentioned above 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, emphasizing the importance of entrusting a reputable carrier with your shipments.

Fact:  Road Scholar Transport drivers wear company uniforms so you will always know that a professional representative is hauling your freight.

Make Your Trucks Stand Out

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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?

Road Scholar Transport is proud to say that in 30 years in business, we’ve never suffered a full cargo loss.  Learn more about our high security shipping today and rest assured that your freight is in good hands.