BEVERLY, Mass. — Holiday weekends are well known for the high risk presented to organizations and their supply chains across the United States. The Sensitech Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) has recorded average Memorial Day theft rates up to 100% higher and average values up to 114% higher than non-holiday weekends. Additionally, the rate of Memorial Day thefts has increased year over year.
In 2020, Memorial Day theft volumes exceeded those recorded in 2019 by 70%. Since 2015, Memorial Day weekends have seen an average theft value of $306,697, totaling in excess of $8.8M. 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.
SCIC recommends logistics and security professionals ensure security protocols are up to date and in line with industry practices for both in-transit and warehouse operations. To mitigate criminal attempts to exploit cargo at rest, Sensitech suggests confirming that a given receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times. In addition, drivers should plan 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.
The following guidelines are recommended to mitigate cargo theft.
- Steps should be taken to verify the authenticity of all shipment-related activity during these periods — particularly any entity involved in either moving or storing 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 over these periods. That communication should include driver instruction as to what types of behavior are required and what is not permissible.
- Truck stops, highway rest areas and distribution centers are traditionally frequent targets for cargo thieves, especially over holiday periods. Any location where cargo comes to rest, whether intentionally or unintentionally — even for brief periods of time — should be as secure as possible. Things to consider when selecting a secure area/lot are include controlled access, adequate lighting, congestion, any type of personal or video surveillance, and how long the conveyance will be left unattended, as well as past intelligence of localized cargo theft activity.
- If a cargo conveyance must be left unattended for any period it should be made as secure as possible. Things to consider: 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 which 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 your facilities before securing them. Remove/repair anything that would assist a perpetrator conduct illicit activity (for example, exterior lighting that doesn’t work, gates/doors/windows left unsecured, keys left in forklifts inside, etc.).
- Before securing a facility for unattended periods check to make sure all alarms, CCTV recording equipment and any sources of auxiliary power are in good working order. Check the batteries of any battery-powered products.
- Treat all premises alarms (no matter the number or closeness in frequency) as if they are all actual penetration attempts. Responses should be made accordingly. Update all lists of company individuals responsible for contact in the event of suspicious activity or emergency. All entities that monitor your 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 your facilities are located. Also, make it as easy as possible for them to “see” your critical access areas.
A number of notable thefts have occurred over Memorial Day weekend during the past five years, according to Sensitech, including the following:
- 2016: California — Fictitious pickup of personal-care items valued at $88,788;
- 2017: Kentucky — Fictitious pickup of computers valued at $584,000;
- 2017: Tennessee — Pilferage of mixed electronics valued at $135,000;
- 2018: Kentucky — Theft of full truckload of apparel valued at $5.7 million;
- 2018: Kentucky — Theft of full truckload of electronics valued at $1 million;
- 2019: California — Pilferage of medical supplies valued at $624,000; and
- 2020: Texas — Theft of full truckload of building and industrial supplies valued at $100,000.