Tips for truckers: Safeguarding your holiday cargo

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | 11/20/2012

The upcoming holiday weekend means many drivers are spending time at home rather than on the road. Historically, cargo theft has increased over holiday weekends. So what to do about that loaded trailer sitting out of sight waiting for your return?

“The biggest mistake that’s being made,” says Doug Morris, OOIDA’s director of security operations, “is drivers leaving a loaded trailer unattended for an extended period of time.”

Morris recommends parking in a well-lit, secured facility equipped with security cameras or security guards. Transport Security Inc., a cargo security company, defines a secured compound as having a chain link fence of 9-gauge material at least 8 feet high and topped with properly secured barbed wire.

If that’s not possible, park in a well-lit area that does not have a history of thefts, Morris says

Transport Security suggests using security patrols in lots where cargo is staged for transport and closing trailer doors before pulling into open view so surveillance efforts can’t see what’s on board. Further, the company says to ensure the “Red Zone” is implemented, meaning traveling 200 to 250 miles before stopping. So drivers should be well-rested, fueled and all personal needs taken care of before hitting the road with a loaded trailer.

If possible, use security devices such as GPS tracking, kingpin locks, steering locks and padlock the trailer.

Be mindful of anything out of the ordinary and maintain communication with dispatch during extended stops at high-risk areas such as truck stops and rest areas, advises Transport Security.

The World War II slogan “Loose lips sink ships” applies to the trucking industry. Keep the friendly chitchat from steering toward the contents of your load, your route or where you are delivering.

“Previous cargo theft operations have received information from truck stop employees and others on high-valued targets as well as the drivers themselves via CB or general conversation at fueling stations,” Morris said.

An easy, obvious tip from Morris: Never leave a spare set of keys in the truck.

If the unfortunate does happen, Morris recommends drivers have a plan in place. Be sure to have funds available to get home. Have truck and trailer information to give to police, including license plate numbers, VIN numbers and any pertinent information that can assist in the recovery of the equipment.

OOIDA members should call the TRACER hotline at 866-950-2291 so thefts can be posted on its website and relayed for recovery efforts. TRACER, the Transportation Alert Communication and Emergency Response program, was launched in 2009 by OOIDA.

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