Times are tough and many predict that cargo theft will be on the rise in the coming months. Cargo theft is expensive and it can also be dangerous. As a trucker, you are upholding your own, as well as your company's reputation out on the road by keeping your cargo safe and secure. We've come up with a few quick tips to help you avoid cargo theft on the road.
1. Ditch the Logos
If you can stay away from obvious logos that give away your freight type, that is always better. Of course, some companies choose to wrap their trailers with logos that can make this difficult. Trailer security is one of the reasons we prefer unassuming trailers. We know that this tip can be a hard one if you drive power-only or if you drive exclusively for one company that is known for their freight.
2. Pre-Plan Your Stops
Now before you roll your eyes at us, we know you don't always know what your day will be like when you start driving. However, you can still try to plan ahead. Even if you can't have a detailed three-day itinerary, you can plan the next several hours. Take a few extra minutes before you leave to do a quick internet search on the place you plan to stop for the night.
Being strategic about finding safe parking is vital.
2. Load and Drive
When you finish loading at a customer site, try to drive for at least 250 miles before stopping for a break. There are opportunistic thieves that are watching warehouses and customer sites waiting for you to head back to the local truck stop so they can take your load, but they usually lose interest when they discover you won't be an easy target.
Shower, eat, and rest before loading up so you can get some miles between you and the customer before stopping.
6. Use Seal Guards
If your company provides you with seal guards like we do at K & J, make sure you use them. Seal guards cover the company or load-specific seals on your trailer to keep thieves from easily identifying and singling out your load. Make sure you use an ISO 17712 compliant seal under the guard and do not skimp on the padlock quality; you will pay for it in the long run. We recommend hardened steel.
4. Watch For Suspicious Vehicles and Individuals
If you notice that another vehicle or individual is following you, watching you, or acting suspiciously, don't just brush it off. If possible, safely separate yourself from them and call 911 to report this behavior. When you talk to the 911 dispatcher give them as much identifying information about the suspicious person as possible, including descriptions of the vehicle, occupant, and the license plate number. Whatever you do, make sure you stay in safe, well-lit locations so that you aren't putting yourself in more danger. Do not approach the individual and confront them.
3. Stay With Your Trailer
Never drop your trailer in an unsafe or unapproved area. If you are working with a trucking company, they will give you advice about where, when, and if it is safe to drop your trailer. For K & J drivers we ask that you stay connected to your trailer for the duration of the trip unless it is a planned drop and hook. Dropped trailers are most vulnerable to theft.
3. Inspect Frequently
Even though you've already done a thorough pre-trip inspection, you need to continue checking your trailer, brakes, and air lines throughout the driving day. Always check your trailer doors and seals for signs of damage or tampering. If you notice tampering, report this immediately to 911, and your dispatch team or cargo loss specialist.
5. Don't Discuss Your Cargo
Discussing your cargo feels like harmless small talk, but it can put you and your load in danger. Don't discuss your plans in truck stops or on CB, and keep your information off social media as well. There are many drivers who have shared load information on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and TikTok and regretted it. With "find people near me" features on many social media platforms, you may not be as hidden online as you think you are. Some thieves also track driver patterns using social media check-ins, so be careful with what information you put online.
7. Don't Sleep Where You Stop
We actually got this tip from some of our female truck drivers. If you want an added measure of security in high-crime areas, stop at a secure-looking truck stop to take time to shower, eat, and get ready for rest. Then head to another secure truck stop to park for the night. By avoiding getting out of the vehicle at your overnight stop, you are making it harder for criminals to single you out based on how "tough" you look.
8. Use Location to Your Advantage
Try to find parking in good lighting and near visible lot cameras. Usually your best bet is closer to the building or truck stop. If you can, park with your trailer doors against an object such as a fence, light pole, or retaining wall, you will be less likely to be targeted. Just be sure you have the backing skills to handle this option without damaging your trailer!
9. Lock it Up
We can never be too trusting it seems. If you are leaving your tractor, make sure it is is fully secured: locked doors, locked outside compartments, and closed windows. There is no, "I'll only be inside for a minute," anymore. You should also consider locking up while driving through heavily populated, urban areas or areas with high crime rates.
Curious where cargo theft hot spots are located? This map from CCJ shows the hot spots from 2019.
11. Know Who to Call
Do you know who to call if your load is stolen or damaged by theft? Make sure you discuss this with your dispatcher or load planner so you aren't without resources if it happens to you. It is also a great idea to have a secondary number to call in case you can't get through to the first individual.
Stay save out there!
Still have questions about preventing cargo theft? We would love to help you out! Click below to ask our team and your question might be featured in an upcoming blog!