The holiday season is a time of joy and happy expectations for most. Unfortunately, that season also brings some expectations that can deliver anything but joy. Just as we noted in our recent blog on Thanksgiving thefts, Christmas and New Year call for extra diligence from every trucker. Your loads and trucks are an attractive target for those who see this as a time for taking instead of giving.
Even with this year’s post-pandemic shortages and shipment hassles, warehouses will be brimming with cargo destined to fill shelves in a post-Christmas rush. Reduced staffing and the hectic pace found in many distribution centers and warehouses means the risks of losses are heightened. That also translates into added challenges for the truckers between these facilities.
Statistics provided by both CargoNet and FreightWatch show an annual surge in thefts of payloads and trucks during these two weeks. According to a study of annual thefts over the past decade, the top days for cargo thefts are December 29, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve. It is easy to understand that these are days when drivers might tend to relax and perhaps let their guard down a bit.
An analysis of reported incidents shows that thefts were most common when truckers chose to park their vehicles in less secure locations such as truck stops, warehouses, and parking lots. These are also times when normal staffing is reduced and most people are focused on families and celebrating, providing more opportunity for the dedicated thief.
Targeted Thefts and Significant Losses
With the current supply chain strains, the threats of the coming holidays are expected to be even more attractive for thieves. Normal routines have been interrupted in many parts of that supply chain, and the rush to restock has created bulges and extra shipments at certain points. These make effective security even more challenging.
It is basically a supply and demand situation: the confusion, shortages, and delays have increased the return that thieves can expect from any cargos they attempt to resell.
As an example, CargoNet is reporting a spike in targeted thefts of computers, components, and electronics in the Central, Southern, and Bay areas of California as the ports are beginning to catch up with high-value shipments that were delayed earlier in the year.
Security experts make it clear that many of these are planned and targeted thefts instead of incidents of opportunity. Thieves use insider information and/or track shipments from well-known ports and warehouses.
An unusually high number of full truckload thefts has also been noted in the Midwest and along the Southeast and Eastern Seaboards. While all types of loads are at risk, in addition to computers and electronics, the largest losses have come from the more in-demand shipments such as:
Firearms and ammunition
The reported incidents run the gamut of fraudulent pickups, thefts from facilities, full truckload thefts, and last-mile thefts.
The twelve cautionary steps we provide in our previous blog underline the need for awareness during this period of heightened risk. These tips stress the importance of drivers keeping their attention on their surroundings and any suspicious activity and vehicles that might be tracking them.
It is also important to not let the holiday spirit or temptation to relax cause a breach in protocol by parking in less secure areas or leaving facilities undermanned. Hard-working drivers and workers have earned time off for the holidays. However, the thief sees this as the time to go to work and seize any opportunity where security may be less stringent than normal.
Going into the 2021 holidays calls for added vigilance for those truckers who are on the road. Take the time to review your safety protocols and follow them. Don’t make it easy for a thief to take advantage of the season and to play the Grinch.