As holiday shopping begins, shippers should be aware that law-abiding consumers aren’t the only ones hoping to get their hands on this season’s hottest gifts. It’s time for high-value shippers to refine their theft prevention plans and implement security measures.
While all shippers should beware, companies that transport electronics should be extra vigilant this fall and winter. Popular electronic devices – namely gaming systems, smartphones, computers and tablets – tend to attract a lot of attention from cargo thieves. These expensive items sell quickly, making them easy to offload and rogues able to turn a quick profit.
“As the Christmas cargo moves, we will respond in a targeted manner,” said Scott Cornell, Travellers’ Inland Marine Crime and Theft Specialist for Travelers. “The tricky part we’re seeing this year is that cargo theft has spiked quite a bit since the pandemic began. Don’t be fooled if there isn’t a big jump in the numbers, the numbers are already up.”
Cargo thefts skyrocketed in 2020 and have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Even without significant jumps from year to year, loads are more at risk today than they were just a few years ago.
According to CargoNet, 1,285 cargo thefts were reported nationwide in 2021. Companies suffered a cumulative loss of $57,906,276 related to these incidents.
Large ticketed items such as computers and other electronics were the most targeted shipments, reinforcing the notion that shippers should take security measures around heavy electronic cargo.
“As we enter 2022, CargoNet expects theft activity to remain high,” the company noted on its website. “We remain concerned about an increase in rail theft and targeting of computer electronics shipments from California, as well as an outbreak of truckload thefts spreading across the eastern half of the United States.”
Cornell encouraged truckers to focus their efforts on preventing theft by employing the following tips:
- Establish good policies and procedures, such as: B. A red zone policy: Shippers and their broker or carrier partners can work to protect their cargoes by educating drivers about cargo theft and preventative methods like “red zones.” Just one example of a good policy for establishing these zones is within a 150 to 250 mile radius of distribution centers. “Cargo thieves monitor distribution centers,” Cornell explained. “If they do that, they hope you’ll stop shortly after you’ve picked up the cargo and give them time to steal your cargo while you try to prepare for the trip.” This has encouraged some to issue “red-zone guidelines.” or introduce policies to help drivers protect cargo within the danger zone. Drivers should be encouraged to eat, refuel and take their breaks before picking up loads to avoid stopping in these zones. In general, leaving this area without stopping after picking up a charge is enough to deter thieves trying to score points without straying too far from the distribution center.
- Consider a security escort: Companies transporting high-demand loads could send forwarders to pick up loads with a security escort. These heightened security measures make it clear that hijacking this cargo will not be an easy task, which is enough to deter most thieves. “Prevention is key. Resources are getting scarce during the holiday season,” Cornell said. “You’re going to have a harder time getting someone to prioritize your loss when there are more losses.”
- Choose the right insurance partner: No matter what policies shippers, brokers or carriers have, some cargo thefts are still bound to happen. When that happens, a company like Travelers can make things easier for shippers, retailers and end users. When a quick recovery is needed, the Travelers Special Investigations group steps in. The group – unique to the company and available at no cost to their customers – is a team of cargo theft investigators who work with local law enforcement to locate and secure cargo. This can sometimes even be done in time for the holiday season, minimizing the damage to all parties involved.
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