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International Forwarding Association Blog » International freight forwarding » Safety Measures and Precautions for Cargo Theft Prevention
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Safety Measures and Precautions for Cargo Theft Prevention

With globalization and the ever increasing interdependence of European economies, cargo theft has become a real threat. Criminal groups often target high-value goods such as pharmaceutical products and mobile devices, and the number of incidents has increased during the last couple of years. Given that billions are lost to cargo theft each year, prevention is the key to ensuring safe transit. There are some proactive steps that IFA members can take to protect cargo from getting stolen.

Who Is at Risk

Forwarders that serve the textile industry should be extra vigilant because clothing and apparel are more difficult to trace and are easy to sell on the black market. Other commodities that thieves target include alcohol, cigarettes, metals, housewares, and food and beverages. The fact that food and beverage items and clothing do not have serial numbers makes tracing more difficult compared to electronics. Many food items also have a short shelf life which means that evidence is quickly lost.

Cargo Theft Prevention

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Places to Be Extra Vigilant

Industry experts warn that the most targeted locations where incidents occur include mall, restaurant, and hotel parking lots, rest areas, and truck stops. Unsecured and unattended locations, however, are where the majority of incidents occur. Shipping facilities are increasingly targeted by criminals who monitor schedules and departure and arrival times. Research indicates that incidents usually occur within the first 300 km when truck drivers stop for a rest break, gas, or food. Experts advise that freight forwarders carefully plan their routes to avoid risky locations and the Red Zone, which is precisely within 300 km from the facility of departure.

Drivers who notice any suspicious behavior should contact law enforcement and the home office as soon as possible. Communication is essential during transit. Driving until a secure and safe location is reached also minimizes the risk of theft.

Make Use of Technology

Making use of safety devices is one way to prevent cargo theft and keep loads safe. Safety devices such as high-technology security seals, vehicle immobilization, and shipment and vehicle tracking can be used to prevent theft. Electronic seals, for example, help track goods by keeping track of location. Some forwarders use GPS-enabled technologies while others rely on technologies that generate identification numbers. Air brake locks are also used to lock the parking buttons and prevent criminals from driving trucks away. Other safety devices to ensure safe transit include kingpin locks and remote immobilizing. When using freight security devices, it is best to avoid places where cons can easily see and disable them. The dashboard is one place to install GPS-enabled devices.

While there is no simple solution to prevent cargo theft, providing security training to drivers and warehouse personnel, combined with advanced technologies, helps reduce the risk of incidents during transit and on arrival and departure. Knowing the locations that are the heaviest hit and following safety procedures also helps reduce the risk of cargo theft.