Today’s Cargo Thief: Techniques and How to Mitigate Risk

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cargo theft costs the United States between $15 billion and $30 billion annually with there being a 40% increase in thefts during the holiday season.  The following identifies common techniques thieves are utilizing in the present day to steal freight and how to help reduce your risk of experiencing such an occurrence.


*As Walt Beadling, Managing Partner for the Cargo Security Alliance, notes, “Cargo thieves are increasingly organized, sophisticated, and targeting high-value electronics and easy-to-fence food & beverage loads.”  The rise in nut thefts is an example of how thieves are targeting products with low security monitoring, a high resale price, and lower recovery window since they can be quickly consumed.1

*Beadling also explains that “more often than not, cargo thefts are in collusion with insiders who provide shipment and routing information.”  In fact, Aon Risk Services’ senior vice president Anthony DiPasquale associates insider theft to be the case in 70-75% of incidents.2

*The sophistication of thieves, as previously mentioned, runs deep.  They are continuously watching trailers in route and planning their next move.  For example, DiPasalle tells of thieves who “tripped a security alarm on purpose, just to see what the response would be,” sometimes setting it off repeatedly until there is no response (thinking that it is a false alarm) and then going in.2

*CargoNet’s second quarter report found warehouses/distribution centers to be the greatest targets followed by unsecured yards.3

*“GPS jamming devices are inexpensive and readily available to cloak stolen trucks and cargo from tracking after the fact,” said Beadling.  Although nothing new to the industry, authorities are seeing an increasing trend in the illegal usage of jammers, which thieves use to block the GPS device’s signal, making it difficult for carriers and police to track the stolen load.  While prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), jammers are still being sold illegally inside the U.S.

*Fictitious pickups are rising as well, according to Beadling.  What are known as “burner” cell phone numbers are given and then discarded, as well as untraceable, once the shipment is picked up.4  Besides fictitiously acting as the driver, thieves are also posing as the shipper, calling up the driver who already picked up the load, stating that there was a problem with the shipment and the driver needs to return it at a different location.


*“Risk mitigation strategies include deterring theft before it happens through the use of good, old-fashioned truck and trailer locks – and ensuring drivers apply them; protecting shipment documentation and limiting information access to trusted employees with need-to-know; and avoiding the practice of load brokering by dealing only with reputable, fully-vetted motor freight carriers,” Beadling advises.

*Shippers should vet out drivers and check credentials prior to entrusting them with their freight.

*Keep freight moving during the transport process.  Cargo at rest is cargo at risk.

Here are some ways Road Scholar Transport can help:

*We have internal security gates which block off a section of the trailer, providing an extra layer of security while helping to save money from having to otherwise pay for exclusive use of a trailer.  See a video of how it works here. 

*Road Scholar Transport offers weekend delivery service for our customers, getting their products delivered quickly and reducing cargo theft.

*24-hour expedited service throughout our core service areas.

*Real-time satellite tracking

*Electronic door monitoring


*Facility Security

*Professional and experienced drivers who are subject to background checks and safety tests well beyond the industry standard.


Don’t put your freight at risk.  Book your load with Road Scholar Transport today at