FreightWatch, CargoNet warn of heightened theft risk over holiday

By Land Line staff | 5/26/2016

A long weekend of home time can be a good thing for truckers, but security firms warn it could also be a prime time for thieves looking to make off with unattended trucks and trailers.

Both FreightWatch, a company that specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts around the globe, and CargoNet, a security and logistics firm, issued advisory bulletins this week about the heightened risk of cargo theft during Memorial Day weekend.

The FreightWatch bulletin notes that “holiday weekends are of notoriously high risk for manufacturers and logistics-related organizations. Organized cargo theft rings will be extremely active in the coming days, as more shipments are left unattended for extended periods of time due to the long holiday weekend.”

Doug Morris, OOIDA security operations director said a big reason the risk goes up on the holiday weekend is more drivers have to park their trucks and trailers for an extended period of time, often away from home or in an unsecure location. He said drivers who cannot park in front of their own homes should make every effort to park in a secure location, and check in often.

“Since most drivers will have their rigs parked through Monday they really need to park on a lot that is monitored by cameras or a security guard,” Morris said. “If possible use anti-theft devices like GPS locators and kingpin locks.”

CargoNet’s bulletin points out that weekend thefts occurring on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays account for nearly half of all reported thefts during the week.

“Cargo thieves enjoy the holidays because shipping volume of desirable goods increases, as does demand,” the bulletin states. “Freight brokers should be extra diligent during the holiday season as fictitious pickups increase.”

CargoNet also noted that fuel advance, hostage load, and line haul scams also increase in the days leading up to the holiday. The company recommends that prior to issuing the fuel advance, confirm with the shipper that the load was picked up by calling them directly.

“Do not accept incoming calls from a shipper trying to tell you the driver is there – it could be the scammers spoofing the phone number of the shipper,” the bulletin states.

One other thing Morris said drivers need to be sure not to overlook is whether or not their insurance will cover claims on unattended loads.

“If you leave a load unattended, make sure you have proper insurance,” he said. “Most insurance companies will not honor a claim where the load is unattended for more than 48 hours.”

FreightWatch said that previous Memorial Day weekends have led to up to 40 percent more reported theft incidents than during non-holiday weekends. Last year’s Memorial Day weekend recorded a record-high 15 cargo theft incidents averaging in excess of $600K. 

“FreightWatch International recommends that logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up-to-date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations, as both will be heavily targeted over the holiday weekend,” the release stated.

The company also recommends shippers confirm the holiday operation hours of the receiver to ensure they are consistent with scheduled delivery times. In addition, the company recommends covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high-value shipments.

Notable thefts over Memorial Day Weekend 2013-2015:

  • 2013, California, full truckload of apparel, $300,000
  • 2013, Florida, full truckload of medication, $300,000
  • 2014, South Carolina, full truckload of cosmetics, $200,000
  • 2014, Florida, full truckload of televisions and displays, $800,000
  • 2015, New Jersey, full truckload of perfume, $2,500,000
  • 2015, California, full truckload of notebook computers, $400,000
  • 2015, Pennsylvania, full truckload of copper, $600,000
  • 2015, New Jersey, full truckload of tobacco accessories, $600,000
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