Technology has improved our everyday lives in many ways and made it easier for the trucking and logistics industry to operate. However, recent technological advances have also provided criminals with new ways to commit various crimes, like cargo theft, that target the trucking industry. In the past, cargo theft mainly meant a thief using force to carjack a truck or breaking into a semi that was left unattended or unlocked in a parking lot. However, now, criminals are using much more sophisticated means, often referred to as strategic cargo theft. At LYNC, we are committed to helping the shippers and carriers we are privileged to work with stay informed about strategic cargo theft and learn ways to combat this serious issue.
How Strategic Theft is Changing the Game
In July of 2023, CargoNet, which is a product of Verisk Analytics, a company that works to prevent cargo theft, released its 2023 Second Quarter Supply Chain Risk Trends Analysis that detailed the current state of cargo theft. The report’s findings were startling. They showed that “supply chain risk events” have increased close to 60% year-over-year with over 580 theft incidents being reported in quarter two across the United States and Canada. This equated to over $44 million worth of goods being stolen. Thieves’ top targets, according to the report, are warehouse/distribution centers and parking lots with the main items stolen being food and beverage products and electronics. Experts say that many of these crimes can be traced back to strategic theft. These thieves are using deceptive means like identity theft, double-brokering, and fictitious pickups to commit their crimes. Plus, since these thieves only need internet access to work their magic, there is less risk to them allowing them to cause havoc in any location at any time of day. Think of it this way, a load being transported from California to New York could easily be misdirected to Portland, Oregon, for example. There could even be a paper trail making the entire process look legit. The theft would be over and done with before anyone would ever realize something had gone wrong. The question now is what can be done to stop these criminals in their tracks.
Combatting Strategic Cargo Theft
Technology. Not only is it how strategic cargo theft is committed, but it is also how it is combatted. Once a load is in the wrong hands, knowing where it is can be impossible. However, hiding single-use GPS trackers physically inside the cargo could help. You can also try implementing RFID technology. To give you an idea of how RFID technology could be used, here’s an excerpt from an article from Security Magazine that was published earlier this year: “RFID technology consists of a small radio transponder and a scanner. The transponder is placed in the cargo load and transmits information about that specific load. The scanner recognizes the transponder and communicates the data back to a computer system. If you provide an RFID scanner to your shipper, drivers can scan their loads at certain checkpoints throughout their route. Amazon uses RFID technology, which is why customers can easily track their shipment down to the last known location of an item.”
One of the best measures you can take is ensuring your company is prepared for cyberattacks. By not taking action now to prepare, you are making your company a target. Knowing where to start can be tricky, so It may not be a bad idea to sit down with a cybersecurity expert. They can help you make a plan, identify risks, and install programs to protect your assets. You could also be handing valuable information over to thieves without even knowing it if you post too much information on your website. Be cautious about identifying the companies or brands you work with online. Also, consider using a contact form instead of posting all of the contact information for every person on your staff.
In addition to cybersecurity, you also need to do your due diligence in researching the various companies and individuals you are doing business with to ensure they are a reputable party and not fraudulent. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has an entire page on its website dedicated to answering questions related to fraud protection. We encourage you to take some time to check it out.
Wrapping Things Up
Cargo theft is an ongoing battle that everyone in the trucking and logistics industry has been dealing with for decades. However, as it becomes more sophisticated, we have to re-evaluate the methods we are using to combat this issue. At LYNC, we take this issue very seriously, and we want to ensure that you are informed. Remember that our team is available 24/7/365 to answer any questions and to provide peace of mind. You can contact us today by calling 423-305-7600.