Cargo theft can increase Commercial Truck Insurance and other costs, and 2023 was a good year for thieves but a lousy year for trucking companies when it comes to cargo theft. In the second quarter of 2023, there were 566 cargo theft incidents in the U.S., a “57% year-over-year increase compared to 2022,” according to FreightWaves. The total value of those thefts was $44 million in goods, with the average shipment value per event at $260,703.
What is Cargo Theft?
The FBI defines cargo theft as “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility.
For purposes of this definition, cargo shall be deemed as moving in commerce at all points between the point of origin and the final destination, regardless of any temporary stop while awaiting transshipment or otherwise.”
Cargo thefts can happen anywhere along the transportation process; however, according to FreightWaves, most cargo thefts occur near warehouses and distribution centers, unsecured parking lots, and company truck yards and premises. Any cargo can be targeted – from expensive electronics to beverages and food. Cargo thefts can be carefully planned by a sophisticated group of thieves or, on the fly, by inexperienced thieves.
3 Common Types of Cargo Theft
- Fictitious Pickup – “This type of cargo theft relies on subcontracting the shipment to a legitimate motor carrier and having the shipment misdirected to another address,” Tank Transport Fictitious pickups are on the rise, according to FreightWaves, with 127 more year-to-year in the second quarter of 2023.
- Pilferage – Pilferage or leakage occurs when only part of the shipment is stolen. A few boxes could be stolen, or the thieves could open a box, remove some items, and reseal the box. With this type of theft, the driver may not even realize they’ve been robbed.
- Grab and Go – With the grab-and-go method, criminals follow a shipment until the driver pulls into a truck stop or restaurant. When the driver leaves the vehicle, the thieves steal as much merchandise as possible. The grab-and-go method is most often used to steal high-value or high-tech cargo.
13 Truck Driver Tips to Minimize the Risk of Cargo Theft
- Stay alert by paying attention to your surroundings (especially at night), watching for occupied vehicles in parking lots, distribution centers, etc., watching for anyone following you, and being aware and looking for possible hijacking ploys.
- Try to keep an eye on the truck at all times, but if you need to leave it unattended, only do so for short periods.
- Park in safe, secure truck parking lots with good lighting and 24/7 security whenever possible.
- Subscribe to a reporting service that monitors area thefts., such as FreightWatch or CargoNet.
- Frequently communicate with your company and all members of the supply chain.
- Screen drivers to avoid entrusting your cargo to dishonest and untrustworthy drivers.
- Use technology, such as hidden GPS trackers in the shipment, intelligent routing, advanced locking technologies, etc.
- Preplan Your Route to help you identify safe places to stop and high-theft areas to avoid.
- Vary Your Route so you don’t become predictable.
- Arrive at the pickup location fully rested, fueled, and fed because it’s less likely that a thief will follow you for several hours.
- If picking up a loaded, sealed trailer, check that the seal number on the trailer and bill of lading match.
- Keep information, such as the license plate number, container number, and truck description, with you at all times.
- Don’t share information about cargo or trip details on social media, the radio, etc.
How to Get Affordable Commercial Truck Insurance
The right insurance helps protect your business from the loss resulting from cargo theft, injuries, damage, liability, etc. At American Insuring Group, our experienced agents help you get the right trucking insurance coverage at the lowest cost by comparing multiple competing insurance providers.
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