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Cargo Theft: A Growing Threat to Your Long-Haul Trucking Clients

Cargo theft has always been a problem for the long-haul trucking industry. In past decades, it was often a crime of opportunity. A trailer full of goods was left overnight in a dark and remote area with only padlocked trailer doors for security, and a thief would seize the opportunity with little premeditation. Although such opportunistic heists still abound today, an increasing number of cargo theft incidents are sophisticated and well-planned crimes. Two tactics used by thieves are:

Increased Use of the Internet

Load boards are used by truckers to quickly find loads to carry. However, cargo thieves also use them to learn about recent shipments. The Internet is also useful for learning about hubs where cargo is picked up or delivered, such as distribution centers and warehouses. The thieves then case these areas for expected shipments, or for targets of opportunity. A trailer with goods parked overnight might get broken into, or hitched to a tractor “owned” by the thief.

Sometimes, thieves will steal an entire rig including the tractor and its loaded trailer. Another tactic involves waiting for a truck to pick up a cargo load, and then following it until it stops in an unsecured area where its cargo is taken.

Carrier Identity Theft

A small but increasing percentage of cargo heists involve thieves learning about an arrangement between a shipper and truck carrier. The thieves then arrive at the shipper’s dock posing as the carrier with forged papers before the legitimate truck arrives. Sometimes they carry this out with insider help from the shipping company. A variation to this scheme involves setting up phony trucking companies complete with fake websites, which fool legitimate companies into using their “services.”

Cargo theft isn’t limited to high value items such as pharmaceuticals, computers, and electronics. Sometimes food and drink shipments are targeted because of their relaxed security and the greater ease of fencing them off. An added benefit is these goods are consumables, which make their long-term tracking by law enforcement more difficult.

As should be clear, cargo theft is an ongoing risk that won’t go away anytime soon. Does the motor truck cargo insurance of your long-haul trucking clients adequately cover the loads they carry? If not, or if you aren’t sure, contact us to learn about Prime Insurance Company’s excess liability coverage.


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