BEVERLY, Mass. — Holiday weekends are of notoriously high risk for manufacturers and logistics-related organizations, according to the Sensitech Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC). As the Labor Day weekend approaches, organized cargo theft rings will be “extremely active” as more shipments are left unattended for extended periods of time due to the holiday, SCIC warns drivers and shippers.
During the Labor Day weekend holidays between 2015 and 2019, Sensitech SCIC recorded 2.2 thefts per day, a 15% higher rate than throughout the year. Pharmaceuticals (+83%), tobacco (+67%), electronics (+55%) and auto and parts (+19%) were all targeted more aggressively during Labor Day weekends compared to the rest of the year. This year, with recent storms battering the Gulf Coast, shippers of building supplies (especially shingles) should be particularly vigilant. During past Labor Day weekends, California accounted for 36% of total thefts, followed closely by Texas (16%) and Florida (15%).
The experts at Sensitech SCIC advise logistics and security professionals to make sure security protocols are up to date and in line with industry best practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations. Also, to mitigate criminal attempts to exploit cargo at rest, they suggest confirming that a given receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times and planning for secure parking locations in the event a shipment will have to stop for an extended period of time. Covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high-value shipments are highly recommended, as they have proven to be the most effective protocols to both mitigate in-transit theft and facilitate successful recovery of stolen product.
In addition, truckers and shippers should follow these guidelines, collectively endorsed by Sensitech, IMUA, PCSC, Travelers Insurance, SWTSC, SETSC, NETSC and the Cargo Security Alliance:
- Steps should be taken to verify the authenticity of all shipment-related activity during holiday periods — particularly any entities that have been engaged to either move or store a shipment. Driver and business verification, prior to releasing any shipment, is paramount.
- Communication between drivers and shippers needs to be firmly established and regularly maintained during shipments. That communication should include drivers’ instruction as to what types of behavior are required and what is not permissible.
- Truck stops, highway rest areas and distribution centers are traditionally targets for cargo thieves, and even more so over holiday periods. Any location where cargo would either intentionally (or unintentionally) come to rest — even for brief periods of time — should be as secure as possible. Things to consider when selecting a secure area/lot include controlled access, adequate lighting, congestion, any type of personal or video surveillance, how long the conveyance will be left unattended, and past intelligence of localized cargo theft activity.
- If a cargo conveyance must be left unattended for any period of time, it should be made as secure as possible. Strongly consider using theft-resistant locking/sealing mechanisms for tractors, trailers and cargo compartments; disabling technology for the vehicle’s power units or trailer movements; and parking vehicles and/or cargo compartments in a fashion that make access as difficult as possible.
- Any tracking technology, such as GPS monitoring, that is available for deployment should be used to its fullest extent possible. This would include tracking technology on the conveyance’s power unit and its cargo area (if separate), as well as within the cargo itself.
- Conduct a personal inspection of both the outside and inside of storage facilities before securing them. Remove/repair anything that would assist a perpetrator in illicit activity — for example, exterior lighting that doesn’t work, gates/doors/windows left unsecured, keys left in forklifts, etc.
- Before securing a facility for unattended periods, make sure all alarms, CCTV recording equipment and any sources of auxiliary power are all in good working order. Also, test the batteries in any battery-powered security devices.
- Treat all premises alarms received, regardless of the number or closeness in frequency, as if they are all actual penetration attempts. Responses should be made accordingly.
- Make sure all lists of company individuals responsible for contact in the event of suspicious activity or emergency are up to date. All entities that monitor alarm/access activity need to have access to these up-to-date lists.
- Encourage local law-enforcement agencies to make extra patrols in the areas where cargo facilities are located. In addition, make it as easy as possible for law enforcement to “see” your critical access areas.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.