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Top Tips For Protecting Your Freight From Cargo Thieves

  1. Make sure your security protocols are up to date and in line with industry best practices.
  2. Keep yourself current on cargo-theft trends by checking out quarterly reports from CargoNet and FreightWatch International. Know which areas, goods and tactics are popular with thieves. 
  3. Invest in tractor-locking devices such as brake and transmission locks and other vehicle immobilizers. 
  4. To protect trailers, consider ISO 17712-compliant barrier seals, hardened padlocks, glad hand locks that prohibit release of trailer brakes and kingpin locks that prevent unauthorized hook ups.
  5. Look for high-tech solutions that might fit your budget. Options include GPS tracking, geofencing, devices that send alerts when trailer doors are opened or cargo is unloaded and vehicle-immobilization technology.
  6. Follow all security procedures at shippers’ facilities.
  1. Don’t be offended or irritated if shippers heavily scrutinize your paperwork or ask you to prove your identity. With the rise in carrier identity theft and fictitious pickups, shippers need to play a part in preventing cargo theft.
  2. To reduce chances of a breakdown, inspect your truck and the trailer or container before leaving the shipper’s facility.
  3. Arrive for pickups with a full fuel tank and don’t stop in the first 250 miles. Thieves could have seen what cargo was loaded and might stalk your truck, hoping you’ll leave it unattended.
  4. Notice whether you’re being followed, especially by vehicles with multiple occupants and out-of-state plates.
  5. Don’t talk about what you’re hauling or where you’re going and don’t post this information online. People working with theft rings could be listening at truck stops and searching the web for tipoffs.  
  1. When you stop, park in a well-lit, heavily traveled area with security cameras. Check the load at every stop, and monitor it frequently if you stop for an extended period.
  2. Never leave a loaded truck on a roadside.
  3. Don’t store keys inside your tractor or in a location where someone would look for them.
  4. Try not to stop at unsecured areas when hauling high-value loads. If you have to park at a truck stop, back against a building, post, fence or other objects so thieves would have a difficult time opening the trailers doors. If possible, have someone ride with you and stay with the truck when you have to leave.
  5. Report thefts to law-enforcement agencies immediately. This greatly increases your chances of recovery. Odds are better than 50-50 when the theft is reported within two hours, but drop to 25 percent after four hours.
  6. Keep on your person a list of license-plate numbers, VINs and descriptive information such as color and markings for your tractor-trailer and any trailer or container you haul. Be prepared to turn over this information and data from any electronic-tracking devices to law-enforcement officers.

Cargo theft can spell financial disaster for your business and damage your relationships with customers, who might lose trust in your security practices. 

Last year, the average loss value per cargo-theft incident was almost $190,000, according to CargoNet, a firm that collects and analyzes cargo-theft data.

Half of owner-operators don’t know their cargo-insurance coverage limit, and 60 percent don’t have enough reserve funds to pay for emergency losses their insurance company won’t cover, according to research by Overdrive magazine.


Even if your cargo-insurance policy covers the full value of the most expensive goods you haul, exemptions could leave you vulnerable. Policies could exclude coverage if the truck was unattended, if the loss resulted from theft, if the incident happened in a high-theft-rate area or if the heist involved commonly stolen merchandise.

Learn the details of your policy and shop around if you don’t like what you find.

Of course, the best way to avoid a battle with your insurance company – and negative publicity – is to prevent cargo theft in the first place!

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