Cargo security and theft prevention

The hijacking of a truck represents the "spectacular" in cargo theft. However, this bold act accounts for only a small share of the total losses from cargo crime. According to most experts, the vast majority — possibly as much as 85 percent — of cargo losses can be attributed to employee theft.

Cargo security generally centers on three specific areas: at the terminal, while in transit, and at the destination. Since in-transit hijackings account for only a small percentage of cargo crime, clearly the key to reducing cargo losses is to focus on the prevention of theft and pilferage at the terminal, during delivery of the shipment, and while cargo is being unloaded at the destination.

This handout provides practical measures that can be used to improve the security provided to cargo. By establishing an effective security program that provides for the accountability of cargo at all stages of its handling, substantial reductions can be made in cargo crime losses. Information specific to hijacking prevention is not included.

Management responsibilities

  • Implement a cargo security program that includes written procedures for the proper handling of cargo.
  • Establish guidelines for the screening and selection of employees.
  • Maintain liaison with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
  • Ask local police agencies to make routine checks of facilities during holidays and other down times.
  • Enclose the terminal with a perimeter fence and, where practical, utilize a fence alarm system.
  • Maintain adequate nighttime lighting along the perimeter fencing, around storage structures, and in all yard and parking areas.
  • Check to make sure that facility lighting, back-up generators, alarm system(s) and surveillance equipment are all in good working order.
  • Install a central station burglar alarm system to protect the facility during the closed period. The system should protect all buildings and high-value cargo enclosures, as well as yard storage areas.
  • Never treat any alarm signal as a "false alarm." When targeting warehouse locations, cargo thieves tend to trip facility alarm systems multiple times before breaking in to give law enforcement and facility managers the impression that the alarm system is malfunctioning.
  • Equip all perimeter entrances with secure locking devices and establish an effective key control program.
  • Implement a badge identification system to regulate the movement of employees and visitors, and require employees to display their badges at all times.
  • Provide parking for employees and visitors outside the terminal enclosure.
  • Require employees and visitors to enter and exit the terminal enclosure through one monitored door or gate.
  • Require that all parcels be declared upon entry to the facility and inspected upon departure.
  • Station guards at perimeter gates to inspect and manifest all cargo upon arrival at or departure from the facility.
  • Maintain a log of all cargo seals and store un-issued seals in a secure place with access limited only to authorized personnel.
  • Identify high-value cargo on bills of lading by code numbers or as general freight to conceal its identity.
  • Store all high-value cargo in cargo cages or other secure areas, and assign supervisory responsibility to one person per shift.
  • Restrict access into storage areas to authorized employees only.
  • Remove keys from all facility equipment, especially motorized pallet jacks and forklifts.
  • Separate the shipping and receiving areas as much as possible.
  • Supervise the shipping and receiving operations, and utilize closed circuit television surveillance to deter pilferage.
  • Implement a program of frequent, unannounced spot-checks, or audits, of shipping and receiving operations.
  • Make sure that both security managers and drivers have accurate license plate, VIN, and descriptive information for tractors, trailers, containers, and container chassis. Police agencies will need this information to open an investigation in the event of an incident.
  • Rotate cargo personnel onto different shifts and locations, as practical, to limit the opportunity for collusion.
  • Supervise trash disposal and salvage activities to prevent valuable items from being concealed in trash containers for later retrieval.
  • Consider deploying covert tracking devices. If using tracking devices, be sure to geo-fence all stationary trailers that are not being actively monitored.
  • Secure all tractors with high-security locking devices, such as, air-cuff and tractor steering joint locks.
  • Use kingpin locks to secure loaded cargo trailers and maintain a record of their use.
  • Secure all trailers (loaded and unloaded) with high-security ISO 17712 compliant barrier seals in combination with hardened padlocks. Utilize king pin locks for unattached trailers.
  • Devise a parking arrangement for loaded trailers to prevent easy, unauthorized hook-up.
  • Install truck alarm systems that provide for 90-day maintenance checks and keep a record of all service.
  • Provide high-visibility identification for trailers (e.g., paint numbers on top for easy identification from overhead).
  • Avoid having loaded trailers sit unattended when employees are not present. If loaded trailers do need to sit unattended, be sure that they are parked in secure areas.
  • Select a reputable company when storing cargo in-transit, and determine beforehand that the storage location has adequate security.

Instructions for drivers

  • Inspect the integrity of cargo seals on departure from the terminal.
  • Check operation of truck alarm before departure from the terminal.
  • Do not discuss the nature of the cargo with anyone.
  • Establish a pre-planned route to the destination and deviate as little as possible from the route.
  • Keep cab doors locked while driving, and do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • Park the truck in an area where it can be observed during relief or meal stops.
  • Do not park loaded trailers in unlighted or remote areas.
  • Remove keys from the ignition when leaving vehicle, roll up windows, and lock all door and compartments.
  • Log-in with the dispatcher immediately upon arrival at a destination.
  • Inspect cargo seals for tampering and compare seal numbers with shipping documents.
  • Oversee the unloading of cargo.
  • Obtain a signed acknowledgement for the receipt of cargo.
  • Document and report all suspicious activity that occurs in and around a facility to security. This information can be critical to law enforcement in the event of a cargo theft incident.

Includes copyrighted material of ISO Services, Inc., with permission.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC APR 2019 09-233
171-1004 (1/14)