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TruckNews.com Article: How to stop cargo crime from happening to you

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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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Where Did You Buy That?

Quite often we see empty warehouse units that are used for selling mass products over a short period of time. There is usually a huge banner in the front of the warehouse that tells you what sale is going on. They have great sales and I do love good deals, but sometimes these sales can be stolen items. I try to only go to manufacturer supported ware house sales. But the other day, I was taken back when I heard that the warehouse sale I went to was suspected to be full of stolen products. I really thought this sale was endorsed by the manufacturer themselves. The reality is that many honest shoppers have no idea they may be buying stolen items. Stolen products can be sold to buyers in stores, warehouses, and flea markets to name a few. I am definitely not painting every warehouse sale or flea market with the same brush. But I do not want to contribute to the purchase of any part of the supply chain of stolen goods. Getting these great deals and closing your eyes to where they came from is one way to support cargo theft. If these thieves know they can sell these products, then the vicious cycle of organized crime through cargo theft continues. Cargo theft is estimated at $5 billion a year in Canada alone. Unfortunately, these crimes are rarely publicized. The manufacturing and/or distribution channels do not want to publicize their product being stolen to protect their brand reputation and/or minimize insurance costs. The average consumer has no idea that these products are a result of cargo crime.

The stolen products range from electronics, cars, alcohol, food, and various household items. At a recent raid, York Region Police recovered a truckload of stolen candy worth more than $200,000. As a consumer, I would never imagine that buying candy for my kids at a store may have been stolen. We as buyers need to educate ourselves on what is legit and what stores are potentially supporting organized crime. The supply chain from manufacturing, transportation to distribution need to also contribute to preventing theft through due diligence. You can minimize the impact of cargo theft by becoming educated on cargo security, truck-hijacking-robbery-training, vendor recruitment driver validation and point-to-point escorts.

TruckLast November, CTV News W5 gave their viewers a taste to how serious this issue is in Canada. Watch Video Here.

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