As the number of cargo theft incidents and loss values rise ahead of the holiday shopping season, one industry group is encouraging the transportation industry to adequately prepare for a spike in thefts that tends to coincide with the long Thanksgiving weekend.
“Holiday weekends are of notoriously high risk for manufacturers and logistics-related organizations,” according to a security bulletin from the SensiGuard Supply Chain Intelligence Center. “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 upcoming holiday.”
In the bulletin issued to logistics professionals, the group urges the industry to ensure security protocols are up-to-date. In addition, they suggest confirming a receiver’s hours of operation for the holiday weekend are consistent with scheduled delivery times in order to mitigate the risk of theft while a load is at rest. Truck stops, highway rest areas and distribution centers are at greater risk for theft during holidays, according to SensiGuard’s research.
On Thanksgiving weekends between 2014-18, SensiGuard recorded just under three thefts per day, a rate 51% higher than throughout the year. These thefts primarily targeted electronics (18%), food and drinks (15%) and miscellaneous (14%). Additionally, facility thefts accounted for 5% of total thefts during the previous five Thanksgiving holiday weekends, a rate 7% higher than the rest of the year.
SensiGuard recommends if a load or power unit must be left unattended for any period of time, it should be made as secure as possible. Theft-resistant locking and sealing mechanisms for tractors, trailers and cargo compartments; disabling technology for the vehicle’s power units or trailer movements; parking vehicles and/or cargo compartments in a fashion that makes access as difficult as possible “are all things worthy of strong consideration.”
Other things for drivers to consider when selecting a secure area/lot are: controlled access, adequate lighting, congestion, any type of either personal or video surveillance, how long the conveyance will be left unattended, as well as past reports of localized cargo theft activity.
Where possible, the group recommends the use of covert GPS tracking and active monitoring of high-value shipments “as they have proven to be the most effective protocols to both mitigate in-transit theft and facilitate successful recovery of stolen product.”
Other safety recommendations for drivers and motor carriers include:
- Verify the authenticity of all shipment related activity during these periods – particularly any entity which has 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 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 frequent targets for cargo thieves – not only traditionally but more so over holiday periods. For that reason, any location where cargo would either intentionally or unintentionally come to rest – even for brief periods of time – should be as secure as possible
- Any tracking technology, such as GPS monitoring, that is available for deployment should be used to its fullest extent possible. That would include tracking technology on the conveyance’s power unit, its cargo area (if separate), as well as within the cargo itself.
Notable thefts over Thanksgiving weekend 2014-18
- 2014, North Carolina, full truckload of cosmetics valued at $560,000.
- 2014, California, fictitious pickup of footwear valued at $159,000.
- 2015, Louisiana, full truckload of televisions valued at $380,000.
- 2015, Georgia, pilferage of televisions valued at $100,000.
- 2016, New Jersey, full truckload of footwear valued at $414,000.
- 2017, California, facility theft of spirits valued at $300,000.
- 2017, Tennessee, full truckload of televisions valued at $296,000.
- 2017, Florida, facility theft of spirits valued at $481,000.
- 2017, Illinois, pilferage of televisions valued at $150,000.
- 2018, California, theft of full truckload of televisions valued at $293,000.
- 2018, Texas, theft of full truckload of vehicles valued at $120,000.