Cargo Theft- 3 Mistakes That Make You An Easy Target

From robbers attacking merchants on trading roads, to pirates seizing ships at sea, to bandits on horseback robbing stagecoaches, cargo theft has been around for centuries.

Fast forward to today, Trucks have replaced horse-drawn wagons and today’s perpetrators are not the robbers we see in western movies, but cargo theft is more relevant than ever having a significant impact on the U.S. economy. It is estimated that cargo crime accounts for a direct merchandise loss of $15 to $30 billion per year.

In 2017, The average loss value per incident was $254,800, with food and beverage being the most targeted with electronics in second place.

While theft can occur in any mode, or in the warehouse, trucking has some attributes that make it a better target and at the highest risk for cargo theft. For example:

  • The freight is on wheels and sometimes has a power unit attached that can be disconnected.
  • Trucks often are left running.
  • Trailers may be left unattended in a trailer yard (fenced or unfenced).
  • Drop trailers may be sitting at a dock for days before shipping.
  • Rest areas may be full of unattended trucks.


Cargo Theft Costs 10x Times The Goods Stolen

In 2010, CargoNet, a cargo theft prevention and recovery network, performed a self-insured impact study and found that cargo theft costs 10 times the goods stolen. According to their study, “You have to reimport [the product] or rush shipment. You’ve got to do air freight and that’s more costly. Then you have drayage from the port, so if you lose $200,000 in cargo, you need to generate $2 million in sales to offset it.”

Cargo Trailer Security – How to Secure a Trailer

With elevated awareness and the proper measurements, you can significantly minimize your cargo theft chances. Here are 3 simple tips to help you prevent cargo theft in your organization:

The first rule: always assume that your cargo is at risk. Then, know what and where your risks are and build protocols around them. As stated above, everyone is at risk. Shipping and freight does not just involve ships and containers. Local logistics and transportation are also considered to be part of the industry. Whether it is transportation companies, groupage operators, LCL consolidators or FCL storage yards, where there is transport, there is always theft – Theft of cargo, theft of fuel, theft of spare parts, theft of vehicle etc etc etc. Knowing you are a target is the first step toward actionable prevention.


Supply chain managers need to take a disciplined approach to cargo security, and not just react when one or more incidents happen. Start by drafting a security manifesto and create company wide security processes and procedures. Vet your service providers and audit their security protocols, and that of their suppliers.

Take an active approach prevention — perform field security audits to measure compliance, look for security holes and gaps in shipment protection. Cargo criminals are always coming up with new ways to defeat security devices and systems. By Assessing your own system first you will have the opportunity to close the gaps in your supply chain.

Technology investments should be #1 on your priority list for theft prevention. You don’t want to find yourself after an incident with thoughts of what you should’ve done. Today’s technology is offered at lower costs compared to years past, with many new and innovative features.  

There are sensors and GPS tracking to make sure a vehicle isn’t off route or stopped too long. There are geofence boundaries to alert when a vehicle exits a specific radius defined by you. The truck can be locked and unlocked remotely from inside. There are door-opening alarms. RFID tags to help find what’s missing. Container tracking can follow the shipment. No matter what it is, telematics devices can help you secure your vehicles. 

Choose a device that offers a “one stop shop” for your needs and that includes the hardware and software in your package.

Cargo Trailer Anti Theft Device

One of the simplest ways to fight cargo and trailer theft is by installing a GPS RFID cargo trailer anti theft device. 

Cargo Trailer Anti Theft Device

The device provides you with the following:

  • Ability to rapidly respond to theft by sending alerts when a trailer leaves its intended location or detects unauthorized vibrations/motions.
  • Pick up and drop off cargo location check-ins when cargo is placed inside the trailer and when cargo is taken out of the trailer.
  • Geofence alerts- alerts when trailer leaves designated predefined area on your map.
  • Most importantly- the much needed visibility and control your are currently lacking in your trailers and the cargo inside.
Learn more about the cargo trailer anti theft device