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6 Tips for Preventing Cargo Theft

17 January 2023

Cargo theft is the criminal theft of any type of freight products that are in the process of being shipped along a supply chain. It’s one of the toughest problems for the transport and logistics industry to tackle, as criminal gangs use more and more sophisticated technology to attempt to steal valuable cargo.

According to TAPA, in the 18 months leading up to the 30th of June 2022, the UK communicated 1,573 cargo crime incidents – one of the worst rates in Europe. . Supply chain delays make haulage providers even more vulnerable to attacks when goods are sat waiting as opposed to when they’re in transit. HGV drivers depend on their cargo for their work, and fleet managers depend on their cargo to maintain relationships with their clients and keep their businesses running smoothly and efficiently. So, it’s vital that companies protect against cargo theft wherever possible.

There is always the possibility of cargo theft happening, but precautions can be taken to minimise the risk. Considering this, we’ve put together a handy guide with top tips for preventing cargo theft for haulage industry professionals.

1. Plan Your Route Securely

Information is key when it comes to secure route planning. If drivers and fleet managers understand where most cargo theft happens, they can avoid those places, or be particularly careful when driving through those areas.

Another key component is understanding when cargo theft increases. For example, thefts typically increase around public holiday periods, and when major events are happening. Armed with this useful information, drivers can plan routes that minimise as much risk as possible, or if they do have to drive at dangerous times, maximise HGV security to be as prepared as possible.

2. Ensure That All Drivers are Trained in Freight Safety

Training professional HGV drivers in freight safety is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve cargo safety. This includes advising drivers about the proper way to prepare for journeys to minimise the risk of theft and ensuring that they understand how to manage secure cargo pick-ups, deliveries, and stopovers.

One of the most important parts of freight safety training is instructing drivers on what to do if a cargo theft occurs so that they can protect their own safety and the safety of the goods they are transporting. The EC Security Guidance for the European Commercial Road Freight Transport Sector is a great place to start, as it offers an overall look at cargo safety that can be easily understood.

3.  Invest in Security Hardware

Straight cargo theft, where items are physically taken from a vehicle where it sits, is still a threat in the UK. The best way to prevent this is simple, but effective –  invest in high-security rear door locks and air cuff locks. Wheel locks are also a good idea in preventing lorry theft, if you ever need to leave an HGV unattended.

If you’re operating a fleet of vehicles, putting tracking devices on all vehicles is an excellent way to keep track of your fleet, and in a worst-case scenario, locate a vehicle if lorry theft occurs. If you’re worried about the safety and security of your fleet, you can read more of our dedicated resources about how to prevent cargo crime.

4. Leave No Loaded Trailers Unattended

Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid leaving loaded vehicles unattended for short periods. But this is one of the highest risk times for cargo theft to occur, so you should avoid it if possible – especially if you’re driving in an area where cargo thefts are common. The steps you can take to minimise risk include coordinating layovers with other drivers and working with clients to ensure seamless communications at drop-offs, to ensure that someone is always on hand to receive the goods.

5. Reinforce Cyber Security

Cyber attacks, motivated by thieves looking for cargo theft opportunities, are becoming more and more common. Criminals will send phishing emails posing as someone else, in an attempt to install Trojan Horse malware on an organisation’s server, so that they can get access to sensitive data. This can include drop off and pick-up times, which of course can make it easier for thieves to steal cargo.

To prevent cyber attacks, implement strong cyber security like firewalls and spam filters. Perhaps the most important thing is to offer cyber security training to all staff so that they know to never open dubious looking emails, or click on links from unknown sources, and to always keep sensitive information secure and password protected.

6. Reference All Contact Information Thoroughly

As well as cyber attacks, strategic cargo theft is on the rise. This is where thieves will use sophisticated methods like fraud, giving out deceptive information and impersonating clients or security officials, to gain access to cargo. It can be scarily easy to become a target of one of these scams, but they can be avoided.

Ensure that all drivers and admin personnel understand how to correctly reference all contact information through the proper channels, and double check the credentials of everyone that will be involved in a supply chain. Working closely with other shippers and clients can make the process easier, as they can confirm identification at pick-up points, including using secure pick-up numbers.

To sum up, there are many ways that HGV drivers, and fleet operators, can prevent the various types of cargo theft from happening. The most useful, and cost-effective method has got to be providing appropriate training for all staff members because if employees know how to spot the signs of cargo theft, they’ll be more able to prevent it from occurring.

If you’re looking to train an employee, or train yourself to become a transport manager who can advise other employees about cargo security, check out our transport manager courses for 2023.