Cargo Theft

Stopping Cargo Theft With Multilayered Operations Practices & Countermeasures Powered by Next-Gen Tech

JJ Singh

According to CargoNet, in 2023, $130 million of cargo was stolen and cargo theft incidents were up more than 57% compared with the year prior.

Cargo theft is rapidly increasing, and tactics used by thieves are fast evolving.  Thieves are using new methods, manipulation of technology and targeting a broader spectrum of commodities — from food and beverages to high-end electronics.  

Knowing these emerging tactics can help supply chain trading partners recognize vulnerabilities and prevent potential cargo theft by using effective countermeasures enabled by new technology.

Let’s first discuss how cargo theft occurs and then talk about effective countermeasures to prevent theft.

How Cargo Theft Occurs

Understanding cargo theft is the key to reducing it. The best narrative of how cargo theft is documented by Travelers Transportation Segment, Crime and Theft Specialists:

(Full disclosure: EKA Solutions currently works with Lockton Companies and Insurtech company Redkik to market a Traveler’s shipper’s interest all-risk covered cargo policy on a transaction basis to its carrier, broker, and shipper customers.)  

  • Straight theft, where cargo is physically stolen from a fixed location where it sits, remains, and is vulnerable. Cargo thieves are looking for whatever they can steal and sell quickly. Thieves surveil truck stops, parking lots, roadside parking, drop lots, and other areas where cargo could be left unattended, especially in store parking lots or empty lots on weekends. Thieves may look for temperatures on refrigerated trucks that indicate the presence of pharmaceutical loads, candy, or other types of desirable cargo. Trailers with little to no security deterrents are likely targets.
  • Strategic cargo theft, using fraudulent or deceptive means, continues to evolve. This type of cargo theft involves unconventional methods, including the use of fraud and deceptive information intended to trick shippers, brokers, and carriers into giving the load to the thieves instead of the legitimate recipient. Trends include identity theft, fictitious pick-ups, double brokering scams, and fraudulent carriers, as well as hybrid combinations of these methods used together to create even more confusion.
  • Sniffer and jamming technology, where thieves are using “sniffers,” devices that help detect covert GPS technology, even those embedded within a trailer. Once a device is detected, they then use a GPS jammer to block that technology so it prevents the device’s use to help locate stolen goods.
  • Cyber theft, where thieves deploy basic types of cyber-attacks to aid in committing cargo theft. Phishing emails may be sent to try to install Trojan Horse malware that can infect a company's system and grant access to sensitive data. This may allow cargo thieves access to pick-up and delivery information, which they can use to print out copies of paperwork to commit fictitious pick-ups.
  • Pilferage has always been the larger part of the iceberg just below the surface. This form of theft is often detected well after the event.  Drivers may not realize the loss until they reach the point of delivery, after making multiple stops along the route.

Trucking companies can apply technology-enabled, common sense, and affordable security management practices to reduce the risk factors, including working with vendors that offer technology and tools that can meet their needs.

New Technology Countermeasures

To implement strong theft control outcomes, virtually every industry leader agrees that carriers, brokers, and shippers need to implement multi-layered operational practices and countermeasures powered by new technology to prevent cargo from being stolen.

Knowing exactly how items are stolen helps you make more precise decisions about how you deploy resources for theft prevention. The following are some of these countermeasures.

Cargo Theft Risk Monitoring

Use services like Cargonet. Cargonet provides insights and analytics that can help reduce theft risk by providing early insights and analytics to help brokers, shippers, and trucking companies reduce theft risk.  It provides early insights into how demand and location trends are evolving. This understanding helps companies increase customer satisfaction while improving the safe and on-time delivery of their loads. If companies are adding new customers, routes, or commodities, CargoNet’s route planning tools help to optimize driver and load safety by identifying theft hot zones and better alternatives for driver stops or parking.

Geofencing Technology

This innovation creates virtual boundaries around specific geographical areas. If a shipment enters or exits these predefined zones, instant notifications are generated. Geofencing helps organizations detect and respond to any unauthorized movement of cargo, making it a powerful tool to prevent theft.

Camera Technology

The key to using cameras effectively for cargo security is to choose high-quality cameras designed for use in semi-trailers specifically, and to pair them with other security measures such as door sensors and alarms. A few good features to look for in a security camera include night vision, wide-angle lenses, motion detection, two-way communication, weatherproofing, and remote access.

High-Security Trailer Door Locks and Seals

Companies are investing in preventative measures and new technologies, including digital locking systems (e.g., Overhaul’s new smart door seal), high-security door locks, air cuff locks, and landing gear locks (e.g., “Enforcer” offerings by Transportation Services, Inc.).

Cargo Risk & Security-Centric TMS Solutions

Use a TMS that delivers cargo security lifecycle-specific solutions that cover load from pickup to delivery and which include:

  • Seamless TMS integration with camera,  telematics, and geofencing platforms enables real-time trailer, load, and package-level GPS tracking. Intelligent automated TMS workflows integrate this data with other trucking company operations data to identify suspicious events and generate real-time alerts.
  • Automated and configured TMS workflows integrate trucking company operations data with data from camera platform Cameras to identify suspicious events and to send notifications or alerts to fleet managers or security personnel when suspicious activity is detected.
  • TMS automated workflows help with seal management during load movement and provide real-time alerts resulting from seal tampering.
  • Real-time integration with carrier qualification services platforms and use of carrier data resident on the TMS platform for stringent carrier qualification vetting for each load, at all working hours, to prevent double brokering scams, fraudulent carriers, and hybrid combinations of these methods used to create as much confusion as possible.
  • A TMS with intelligent detective controls can help identify and alert EKA customers on double-brokering events before they happen.
  • Fraud detection workflow to prevent misdirected shipments from the intended receiver.
  • TMS automated workflows with integrations to handle enhanced sign-in procedures to capture vital information about the truck and driver picking up a shipment. This is likely to include driver information, identifying information on the truck and trailer being used, and the use of secure pick-up numbers.
  • Preventative solutions alert carriers of false loads posted by thieves to solicit bids to obtain the information they need to steal a company’s identity.
  • TMS software operating on state-of-the-art cloud services platforms like AWS, Google, and Azure delivers the most hardened security to protect against cyber-attacks. This is driven by the fact that the security protocols and encryption protocols are built into the entire cloud platform services infrastructure by default.  
  • TMS integrated workflow solution that enables drivers to complete a digital DTIR (Driver Trailer Theft Inspection Report) i.e., the driver walks around after every stop to check trailer doors and seals to identify signs of theft and digitally send DTIR to dispatch operations before leaving the stop location.
  • A proactive approach to real-time cargo performance reporting and AI-driven analytics.  

Technology Tackling Real-World Problems

EKA ‘s People-First TMS platform solves real-life problems by delivering state-of-the-art technology infrastructure capabilities fully integrated into the platform. This enables its customers — carriers, brokers, and shippers — to use superior workflow automation, decision support, risk management, and predictive solutions to experience the next level of business performance outcomes.

EKA Platform delivers a TMS with new technology infrastructure coupled with deep domain knowledge and operating experience, and an uncanny ability to make the complex simple. Of equal importance, EKA’s work ethos powers fluid work with customers to configure and solve key management and operational pain points.

Consistent with the above, EKA is rapidly developing and implementing solutions with its Alliance and Integration partners to provide the Cargo Security-Centric TMS Solutions listed above.

For example, EKA is real-time integrated with carrier qualification service providers like MCP to deliver double brokering prevention solutions. Also, the EKA platform is real-time integrated and seamlessly works with Samsara, Trucker Tools, Transflo, and other platforms to provide tractor, trailer, and load tracking solutions to reduce cargo theft risk.

Even after a company’s implementation of optimal and affordable theft prevention technology, there is residual cargo risk that benefits from cargo insurance policy coverage. EKA markets transaction-based all-risk coverage shipper’s Interest cargo insurance policy in collaboration with Lockton and Redkik.

Redkik is a global software company, on a mission to streamline and enhance the insurance industry within logistics and transportation sectors. Through leveraging advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, Redkik’s proprietary technology produces instantaneous quotes, backed by premier insurance companies, and based on accurate data sets. This approach ensures reduced risk and maximized coverage for all shipment types.

Join Our Dedicated Effort to Stopping Cargo Theft & Fraud

EKA is fully committed to rapidly developing and implementing solutions with its expanding list of Alliance and Integration partners to provide “forward-leaning” and “best-in-class” Cargo Risk Centric TMS Solutions

Carriers, brokers, and shippers seriously interested in mitigating cargo theft and improving cargo risk management should seriously consider EKA Omni-TMSTM to solve their key freight management and risk management pain points. Contact us to start a deeper conversation.

JJ Singh, CEO
EKA Solutions, Inc.
Chris Kalinski, CEO
Redkik, Inc.
Tom Ptacek, SVP
John Simms, Sr. Risk Advisor
Steven Weiby, COO
EKA Solutions, Inc.
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