Although often overlooked, the role of local logistics and transportation within the shipping and freight industry is just as important as that of ships and containers. And similarly to all the other industries that use assets and valuables, this industry is associated with a number of risks, such as that of theft, among many others, be it cargo theft, fuel theft, vehicle theft or anything else. However, cargo theft stands out as one of the main problems shipping companies worldwide are faced with at the present moment, whether transportation companies, LCL consolidators or FCL storage yards. Here are seven basic precautions against cargo theft you should consider if involved in the shipping industry.
1. Keep the secrecy with regard to the destination of your cargo
Revealing the destination of your cargo is one of the biggest mistakes you can possibly make for thus, you are allowing thieves to intercept your cargo more easily. Therefore, you need to acknowledge just how important it is that both you and your employees keep the secrecy about this particular aspect and implement relevant policies in this sense.
2. Organise internal audits on a regular basis
First of all, you need to make sure your distribution centre is equipped with proper surveillance technology for thus you can minimise the risk of internal theft, which is one of the most common risks among distributors. This goes hand in hand with collusive theft, which involves employees stealing from the company on a regular basis over an extended period of time and in increasingly large amounts. The best way to protect your company against it is by setting up an efficient inventory management system. In the end, internal audits will reduce the risks of internal cargo theft by spreading fear among your employees as regards the possibility of being caught. However, you need to make such assessments on a daily basis, otherwise you might lose track of the source of shrinkage.
3. Lock the trailers using padlocks
However low-tech they may be, padlocks are highly effective as cargo theft prevention tools, as is the use of satellite controlled locking pins or bolted door hardware or frames.
4. Keep an eye on the hot spots and times
You might want to consider the fact that the risk of cargo theft is particularly high at certain locations and times throughout the year. More specifically, your cargo will be more exposed in certain cities and truck stops and particularly on weekends and during the holidays. According to the statistics, the risk of cargo theft is particularly high in areas such as Brazil, South Africa or Mexico, the latter, for instance, hosting over six thousand theft incidents within one year, most of which were truck hijackings. In addition to this, you should make sure to keep track of the types of cargo that are the most popular among thieves, so that you can maximise the efficiency of your security measures. In the United States, for instance, the largest number of cargo theft events involve food and beverage shipments, as well as cargoes consisting of metals and electronics.
5. Make sure you surround yourself with honest employees
Surrounding yourself with honest employees is a must if running a business in the shipping industry, precisely because the risk of theft is so elevated. Therefore, make sure you monitor those employees showing suspicious behaviour and do not hesitate to dismiss them if they prove dishonest. You can use anonymous tips, organise internal audits, as mentioned earlier, turn to overt surveillance, set up tip lines to complement your surveillance technology or use any other means you deem effective in this sense.
6. Find partners and allies
Another highly effective way to reduce the risk of cargo theft is to keep yourself informed with regard to the latest trends in this area. To this end, you might want to seek the help of law enforcement organisations, security firms or other companies within the industry. Partnering up with them will provide you with a continuous flow of up-to-date information as regards both the latest cargo theft trends and the most effective ways to prevent this risk.
7. Always choose safe parking spots
Lots of cargo theft events are due to improper parking. Therefore, you need to make sure you instruct your drivers on how to choose parking spots so as to reduce the risk of cargo theft. It is your job to look into safe locations where your company drivers can rest during their breaks and pass that information on to them. Parking areas with proper lighting, for instance, are one of things you are looking for. Also, instruct your drivers to lock their vehicles upon leaving and even report any suspicious activity they might notice when away from their vehicle. Last but not least, monitor your vehicles and check them for any signs of tampering on a regular basis.
Such practices will reduce the risk of cargo theft at drop-off points or gas stations, among other locations. Therefore, you need to make sure you provide your drivers with proper training on the risks both they and the cargo they are shipping are concerned. The time and duration of shipments are also relevant for exhaustion affects the ability of drivers to stay alert during their rest periods as well.
In other words, cargo theft prevention is mainly about setting the highest standards as far as procedure is concerned, whether drop-off, parking, surveillance procedures or anything else. Naturally, this mission will require some investments being made, but remember that your cargo lies at the very core of your activity within the shipping industry, so it only makes sense that you take all the necessary precautions to protect it as best as you can. The seven tips on how to prevent cargo theft described above are just the starting point you need for they are meant to give you an idea of how exactly you should go about this particularly difficult, yet extremely important task.