The Most Common Ways Freight Gets Stolen and How to Prevent It from Happening to You
With so many high-value products shipped around the country every day, it's no surprise criminals target freight. Food, electronics, household goods, and valuable metals (such as copper) top the list of frequently stolen commodities—mostly because they are the easiest to resell.
Despite the logistics industry's efforts to improve security, thieves sometimes still stay ahead. They are always working to evolve their methods and create new schemes. Here are three of the most common ways freight gets stolen that you should be aware of:
Carrier Fraud – Impersonating Another Carrier
Carrier fraud, a form of identity theft, is when a fraudulent carrier poses as a different, legitimate carrier to steal a load. In this scenario, they’ll often make sure the truck that picks up the load displays the expected carrier's information, further selling the scam. Another method thieves utilize is to find out when a carrier is coming to pick up a load, so they can arrive before the pick-up time, posing as the carrier before the real driver arrives.
Carrier Fraud – Posing as a Legitimate Carrier
Thieves will often use a made-up carrier company name and fake credentials to intercept shippers' loads from being awarded to trustworthy carriers. These fraudulent carriers are then able to pick up—and thereby steal—entire truckloads. To pull off this scam, thieves typically use online load boards to win bids they are not qualified for, or they simply present a shipper with forged paperwork and certifications.
Because drivers need rest breaks and are required to take them in accordance with the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, they can't be on the road or with their truck at all times. Whenever a truck is left alone, it becomes vulnerable to theft, so it’s not surprising that cargo is often stolen out of trailers parked at truck stops, unsecured yards, or parking lots. Usually, thieves steal goods from an unmonitored trailer by quickly moving product into their own trailer or other means of transportation.
How to Prevent Cargo Theft
There are several ways a shipper can prevent theft. Here are some tips:
- Only use carriers your company or your 3PL has approved through a rigorous vetting process and works with consistently
- Always verify information with your carrier or 3PL to ensure the trucking company’s name and MC number on the truck cab or trailer match the information on the bill of lading (BOL)
- If you work with a 3PL, research the company to ensure they are a legitimate partner as some thieves will impersonate a broker as a way to divert loads away from reputable third parties
- Consider using a driver's license scanner to spot fake commercial driver’s licenses and ask drivers for two forms of ID to verify their identity
- To prevent in-transit theft, you should establish security guidelines and load requirements for the carriers moving your freight (e.g., using certain locks, not leaving trailers unattended for a specific amount of time, parking overnight only in secure locations, or parking in positions that can prevent theft, such as facing the trailer door toward a fence or wall of a building to block anyone from opening the trailer)
- Advise carriers to be especially vigilant while at rest areas within the first 50-100 miles from the pick-up location, because some thieves will survey shippers to see when carriers are picking up loads and then follow drivers with the intention of stealing goods when the driver makes a stop
- Pay extra attention to loads that may require a layover (e.g., local shipments that pick up on Friday and deliver on Monday or over holidays can be targets for theft)
- Be wary of carriers willing to move a load for an extremely low rate compared to the industry standard as this may be a sign of a scam
At Echo Global Logistics, cargo theft prevention is taken very seriously. That’s why we have a robust carrier vetting process and a dedicated compliance team to help reduce the risk shippers face from this issue. We also have a Targeted Commodity and High-Value Program, which sets the framework for how our operations teams and compliance department work with trusted carriers and reduce theft. Through these procedures, we confirm that all carriers we assign to loads have an established history with Echo and are regularly monitored for their authority, insurance, and compliance status. For any commodities deemed targeted or high value, we also take additional steps to make sure these loads receive special attention.