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Preventing cargo theft – hi-tech or lo-tech?

Preventing cargo theft – hi-tech or lo-tech?

There was a time when cargo thieves targeted big-ticket goods. Not anymore. Today, thieves seem intent on targeting trailers filled with low value items such as food and drink. But this isn’t the only shift in tactics, criminals are smarter in how they use technology to get what they want – and carriers need to follow suit if they are to keep thieves at bay.

Social media is an easy way for thieves to gain intelligence for potential robberies or hijackings. As a result, drivers should avoid writing about trips and routes on social networks.

However, the most common place for cargo to go missing is while in transit. This means prevention starts with the truck itself. But what’s more effective: a hi-tech solution, or something decidedly more lo-tech? Here’s the lowdown on both…

Taking the hi-tech approach

Remote immobilising technology can leave a vehicle stationary if it is (or suspected of being) stolen. This will stop any thieves planning to steal the truck along with its cargo (a common ploy) in their tracks. If the truck won’t move, they’re going nowhere.

Electronic seals allow assets to be tracked wherever they go. These range from simple devices generating unique identification numbers to GPS-enabled, RFID-readable devices which create a record of location data, where and when seals were deployed, and even live camera views.

For many, electronic freight security offers the best defence against cargo theft as it allows full visibility of the cargo for the duration of the transit. Of course, it’s better to embed the GPS into the dashboard rather than mounting it where thieves can quickly spot, identify and disable it.

Don’t forget lo-tech security, too

Research by CargoNet has shown that 36% of all cargo theft incidents take place on Fridays and Saturdays. A simple precaution you can take as a truck driver is parking tail-to-tail whenever you stop. Choose locations that are well-lit and where there are already plenty of trucks. Make sure your rear cargo doors are hard up against another truck or wall.

Another deterrent is trailer wraps. While a stolen white trailer can easily vanish among the thousands of other white trailers on our roads, a distinctive trailer is far easier to spot.

There’s no simple answer to the problem of cargo theft. A combination of technology and good old common sense is probably the best solution. So act smart and keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour, but remember: no amount of cargo is worth more than your life. If you do find yourself in a tricky situation, don’t be a hero – there’s a reason why fleets have freight insurance policies in place.

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