Protecting Your Cargo over the Holidays

Earlier this year, the FBI released its second annual compilation of cargo theft data. This report does not include aircraft cargo data; only cargo transported by sea and on our national interstates and highways. During 2014, 547 incidents of cargo theft were reported by law enforcement. The stolen cargo had an estimated value of more than $32.5 million. These FBI statistics included only honestly reported thefts.

The National Cargo Security Council (NCSC) believes the total cost of cargo theft to be much higher. It estimates cargo loss costs at $50 billion annually, in direct and indirect expenses. So let’s cut to the chase – what’s actually being stolen? Any product being shipped is potentially a target, but the highest ranking items are cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, and especially computer/electronic components. These items can be re-sold on the “black market” for a greater value.

In the past few years, FBI investigations have revealed increasingly sophisticated operations within well-organized hierarchies. The typical “criminal enterprise” has a leader who runs a regional or national operation. Beneath him/her are cells of thieves and brokers, or fencers that unload stolen goods on the black market. “Lumpers” physically move the goods, along with drivers. There is typically an anti-theft lock specialist that ensures locks are cut as quickly as possible.

Not all cargo thefts are outside jobs. In some thefts, individuals directly involved in the shipment will participate. An insider can provide thieves with information regarding the content of shipments, or a driver might collude with thieves by allowing access to the trailer in exchange for a cash payment.

So what can a large cargo business do to keep their cargo secure during transport and delivery? It helps to have in-house GPS tracking systems in place for your trucks and cargo, to keep track of cargo weight, shipments and delivery times. Here are a few other tips:

1. Warehouse Security: Screen all warehouse applicants and do background checks. Train employees about what to watch for.

2. Logistics: Highly functional data recording on where shipments will be going. Only share the information on a need-to-know basis.

3. Reporting: If your cargo is missing, report it immediately and to the proper authorities. Cargo thieves move stolen goods quickly, so the faster you act, the faster law enforcement can respond.

4. Insurance: Make sure you have the right type and amount of coverage for your trucks and cargo.

For more information on preventing cargo theft, or to obtain insurance quotes for your business, please contact the professionals at Barker Phillips Jackson at: 417-887-3550, or email: