Cargo theft is a $30 billion problem shippers and carriers can’t afford to ignore. In 2021, 1,285 cargo theft incidents resulted in the loss of $157 million in cargo according to CargoNet. That number does not include lost sales or the cost of load recovery efforts, increased insurance premiums or product recalls that may be triggered by loss of supply chain integrity.
As supply chains become increasingly complex, with more points of vulnerability at which cargo can be stolen, and cargo thieves become more organized and aggressive, private fleets and for-hire carriers need stronger end-to-end supply chain visibility, including cargo tracking, to ensure cargo stays secure and intact.
Asset tracking is the first line of defense
To fight both pilferage — when thieves steal a few pallets or parts of a pallet from a truck or trailer — and full trailer load theft, asset tracking is essential. Companies that leverage reusable, compact asset tracking devices designed for global shipping and logistics can greatly reduce losses associated with cargo theft.
Placed within the cargo at the pallet or package level, an asset tracker enables continuous monitoring of the goods in transit and real-time alerts. With CalAmp’s Supply Chain Services, shippers can define the alert parameters for the asset tracker based on dwell time, deviation from approved routes and departures from approved locations. Alerts can be seen on the online dashboard, which can be securely accessed from anywhere.
In addition to asset trackers, a trailer door open/close sensor is another must. These sensors alert the driver and the fleet manager to potential break-in attempts.
GPS trailer tracking is critical to trailer theft prevention
Cargo theft rings often target full trailer loads of high-value commodities. Criminals rent or steal tractors, hook up to the trailer they have targeted and move it to another location to unload the cargo. More than half of full truckload thefts occur at truck stops, warehouses and distribution centers.
For shippers and carriers, GPS trailer tracking is essential to prevent trailer theft. Trailer trackers that deliver real-time alerts when deviations from geofenced routes occur help companies minimize trailer theft. Companies can also define “safe zones” — approved locations where the trailer may be parked. If the trailer departs either a geofenced route or a safe zone unexpectedly, an alert allows the shipper to investigate the situation and notify law enforcement of a theft if necessary.
24/7 cargo monitoring improves the odds of cargo recovery
Cargo theft networks are set up to steal, unload and distribute cargo as quickly as possible, so every minute counts after a theft occurs. Continuous monitoring of high-value loads offers the best opportunity to maximize recovery of stolen goods, but it requires time and expertise. Professional 24/7 cargo monitoring removes the burden from shippers and keeps carriers and shippers one step ahead of thieves.
Command center experts not only monitor the cargo throughout the shipment journey but also coordinate directly with law enforcement when theft is suspected. CalAmp’s Command Center enabled a retailer to recover a stolen load of Chanel and Versace products in less than 12 hours. After receiving a stationary alert on the shipment, the Command Center immediately notified the shipper of a possible theft. After the shipper confirmed the load had been stolen, the Command Center gave the police the address of the tracking device and sped up the location reporting rate. With constant updates, the police caught up with the thieves as they tried to move the cargo. Arrests were made and the full load was recovered.
While not all attempts to foil cargo thieves end in success, carriers and shippers that make an investment in cost-effective, end-to-end supply chain visibility and event-based shipment monitoring gain a significant advantage.
In today’s high-risk shipping environment, a layered approach to cargo security is the best insurance against cargo theft. Together, asset tracking, trailer tracking and professional 24/7/365 cargo monitoring increase the odds that cargo will arrive safely at its final destination.
By partnering with a best-in-class connected intelligence company that offers an integrated end-to-end supply chain visibility solution, companies can identify gaps in their supply chain security, minimize the risk of cargo theft and protect profits — and reputations — of cargo owners.