Archive for June, 2016 Article: How to stop cargo crime from happening to you


June 20, 2016
by Sonia Straface

KING CITY, Ont. — It’s no secret that cargo crime is a major issue in North America. In Canada alone, cargo theft costs the economy $5 billion per year.

So to help fleet managers understand how to protect their businesses from cargo crime, Constable Chris Bertrand of the Peel Regional Police and Han Koren of Afimac Global spoke to attendees at the Private Motor Truck Council’s annual conference in King City, Ont.

In order for fleets to prevent cargo crime from occurring in their own operations, they need to think like a bank, according to Bertrand.

“You hear about bank robberies all the time. They’re in the newspapers, they’re covered on TV, but there’s only about 12 (in Peel Region) per year,” he said.

To compare that with cargo crime, there were 119 reports of cargo thefts in 2014, Bertrand said adding that the average loss for a cargo load is $145,000 while the average loss for a bank robbery is just over $1,600. Koren added that close to 50% of all cargo thefts go unreported.

So what are the banks doing to curb robbers?

First off, Bertrand said banks are much better at surveillance than the average trucking company.

“On average they have 22 security cameras in every bank. But not only that, the cameras are strategically placed,” he said. “So don’t just install one camera to capture the whole property, they have to be strategically placed.”

Bertrand explained that when you only install one camera, you only get one angle and most times you can’t see the face of the perpetrator because the camera is low quality and too far away.

Banks also use the media to their advantage, Bertrand said. Something the trucking industry doesn’t do for fear they will lose customers.

“Banks are never afraid to say they were victimized. A lot of trucking companies are, and that’s understandable because there’s a lot of competition in the trucking industry and you don’t want to have a customer read that your trucking company has had a number of loads stolen because then they’re not going to transport their products with you,” he explained.

Bertrand and Koren agreed that it could also be worthwhile for fleets to run voluntary background checks before hiring a new employee.

Koren said it doesn’t make sense to employ a driver responsible for $500,000 worth of cargo without doing a background check first.

One type of check on potential employees that fleets can do without doing a formal background check is social media profiling explained, Koren.

“So if you have a suspicion, or if you want to know more about who you’re recruiting, a check can be done on social media and it’s amazing what people share now on social media. Many companies as part of their recruiting process are using that tool,” he said.

A properly lit parking lot is also a good idea to consider as most cargo thieves would be put off by bright lights shining down on them, said Koren.

“Never leave your loads in truck overnight,” Bertrand added. “The vast majority of stolen cargo, that’s what happens. The driver wants to hit the road first thing in the morning. So they’re going to put the load in the truck, lock it up and then leave at night. Well, what the thieves are going to be doing is going to unsecured yards and they’re going to knock on a truck to tell if they truck is loaded or not and if it’s loaded, they’re going to take it.”

Furthermore, it would be wise to hire a security guard to man your yard 24/7 in order to thwart thieves from snooping around your yard, Bertrand said.

“The trucking industry is growing and sometimes this means more unsecured yards which make it easy to snatch loads,” said Koren.

Bertrand and Koren also said it would also be worth while to consider places GPS devices in your trucks, trailers and loads.

While all of these tips can take a hit on your wallet, both Koren and Bertrand said the money spent on risk management is worth every penny.

“You have to spend some money, but in the end you’re saving yourself money and huge headache of losing a load,” Bertrand said

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Striking the Balance

Last Friday the European soccer tournament commenced with Romania against France. Many people in Canada with European ancestry will be following the games closely, some even attending a game in Europe. There are others that are deciding to stay away from the stadiums, due to the fear of another terrorist attack, specifically in France.

Unfortunately for me (being from the Netherlands), the Dutch did not qualify for this tournament. This is somewhat surprising as they did well in the last World Cup and have some of the best players in the world. Several sports journalists and psychologists have commented on this and claim that the lack of the performance by the Dutch has to do with their mental state of mind. Possibly underestimating the opponents, becoming arrogant and losing unexpectedly. After this happens, they become uncertain, start making more mistakes and play under their capacity, leading to another loss.

In the world of security, in particular, a terrorist threat, the risks can easily be under or overestimated as well. The consequence may be that there is insufficient security, putting people in potential danger. Overestimation of risk can lead to more radical measures such as cancelling games or the whole tournament. There needs to be a balance. Security experts have to identify realistic threats, lower the risk by taking effective measures and still ensure that spectators can enjoy an event, such as the European Championship.

Just days before the championship kicked off, Ukraine security services said they had arrested a Frenchman and an accomplice who were planning attacks on French targets before and during the tournament. The arrests are a reminder that the soccer tournament faces more terrorism threats than just ISIS.

One of the new risks that have been identified are drones flying into a soccer stadium crammed with spectators. The drone may be equipped with just a camera, or something more sinister such as toxic chemicals. Either way, the unauthorized flying machine would be violating a no-fly zone. Taking no chances, organizers have deployed new technology in 10 French cities to protect against unwanted airborne intruders.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury said,”We’ve noted the general proliferation of drone-usage in society, so no-fly zones will be defined over every training ground and every stadium, and in most stadiums and for most matches anti-drone measures — which are quite innovative — will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted.”

French authorities have recorded dozens of mystery drones flying over sensitive sites (mostly nuclear facilities), but also military installations and even the presidential palace. In response, the government is funding research into technology that could interfere with or jam signals that control drones, or even destroy them.

Understanding the type of security measures being taken will hopefully help ease the minds of spectators and let them enjoy the experience of seeing games live instead of on TV. Hopefully, the event will turn out to be a great spectacle with no unexpected security breach. Let the best team win.



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Plan E for Emergency! Are You Prepared?

As I hear and read about all the tragic and heart-wrenching events that have taken place over the years, I start to wonder what my family and I would do in an emergency situation. We are told that we should have this and that, in case something happens, but I have never met anyone who is actually prepared for an emergency. As a husband and father of two small children, a 4 and 1-year-old, it terrifies me to think of an emergency situation happening to my family, especially if I am not there. Unfortunately, it usually takes a serious event to get people to think about these things and prepare for what they would do. After the forest fires in Fort McMurray, my wife and I decided that we should have plans for different disasters and emergencies.

We started with teaching my son about fire safety and created a plan of what to do if a fire occurs in our house. The plan included different ways to get out of the house, places he can go, and who he can call when he is safe. The most difficult thing to talk about was getting his sister out and not worrying about his parents. This was a quick discussion as he is only 4 years old, but it is important to talk to your family about these types of situations, no matter how horrible they may be because everyone needs to know what they should do in these events. After creating our fire plan, we went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of nonperishable foods and some emergency supplies so we could be prepared for other emergencies.

After this, I thought my family and I would be ready for any situation that might occur until I was at home with my two children while my wife was at work. I was walking down the stairs carrying my daughter when I caught my foot on one of the steps and almost lost my balance. Luckily I did not fall, but it made me think about what would happen if I did hurt myself badly? Would my son know what to do? I travel for work and started to think about when he’s alone with his mother. He has learned her cell phone number (not mine yet) but like most people, cell phones are password protected, and we do not have a home phone. How would he call for help? At this point, I remembered about a function that most iPhone’s have for emergencies. On the bottom left-hand corner, there is an emergency button that appears, and you can call 911. Also, there is a button labeled medical ID. If you touch this button, it will list emergency contacts (with a link to call them) as well as some medical information about yourself, such as blood type and if you are an organ donor. This feature is very useful, not only for emergencies at home but also if you get into an accident anywhere. Paramedics can access this information along with your appointed emergency contact. This data needs to be filled out through the health app on your phone.

I know we cannot have a plan for everything, nor can we be fully prepared for an emergency or disaster but I feel more comfortable knowing that my family has discussed what could happen and what they should do. The most important part of any plan is to educate.


For more information on emergency planning with your family visit:


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Bid Rigging…Global Growth Requiring Urgent Policy Response – Where Are we Headed?

On February 18, 2016, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) published this statement, “Elusive global growth outlook requires urgent policy response”. Although, the article doesn’t mention bid rigging – governments need to take a hard look at their policies and processes when getting quotes for major projects.

On May 29, 2016 – The Globe and Mail published an article stating “The federal Competition Bureau is warning governments to be on the lookout for signs of bid-rigging and other shady activity as Ottawa opens the floodgates to spend billions on infrastructure projects across the country.”

Bid rigging has been in existence for many years; companies have been charged in the past for this and yet it still prevails. In 2014, criminal charges were laid for a bid-rigging conspiracy in connection to information-technology contracts at Library and Archives Canada. Another recent example in April 2016; “Bombardier Inc. taking on the mayor of Chicago and the city’s transit agency… alleging that a $1.3 billion (U.S.) rail car contract awarded to a rival Chinese bidder was “rigged.”

Is bid rigging driven by greed or opportunity? Dealing with numerous RFPs over the years, I can say from experience that we all need to take ownership. Customers are being instructed to keep costs down, and vendors are trying to survive in markets that are expecting more for less. As a result, the industry has become so competitive, depleting any margin. Procurement is mandated to get the best product/service for the best price. Companies focus on ways to win the bid while still being able to stay afloat financially. All government RFPs say no collusion – this is the right thing to do. But what happens is the vendors that don’t work together compete against each other for virtually no margin. This is a problem that we can’t ignore.

So, what do we need to do to prevent corruption and what are the red flags to avoid bid rigging?

  • The client needs to be respectful to costs
  • Vendors can’t survive without any margins
    • The customer needs to understand what a fair market margin is
  • Audit and visit the vendors that are shortlisted
    • Are they able to do what they are committing to
  • The agreement should be guided by a transparent reporting structure
    • Contract management doesn’t stop upon award – it is just the beginning
  • Create service level agreements and key performance measurements that include a clear profit margin
  • Audit the program regularly once established
  • Ensure the award is based on merit, be aware of ‘sweetheart’ deals
  • Investigate the process

Duty of care is usually a term used to ensure due diligence is maintained in safeguarding employees. What about the duty of care to businesses and the negative impact on a cutthroat process? Bid Rigging creates debt that ultimately affects everyone.

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