R2 Logistics

6 Best Practices for Preventing Cargo Theft in 2024

American businesses are facing significant challenges due to supply chain disruptions. Adding to this problem is a recent rise in cargo theft. The FBI estimates that cargo theft is costing logistics companies and retailers $15 to $30 billion annually.

Is your business protected from this threat? If not, here are six of the best cargo theft prevention practices that you can use to safeguard your business.

an example of someone committing cargo theft

1. Ask Drivers for ID

This may sound obvious, but start by asking your drivers to identify themselves when they come to pick up a shipment. Insist that they provide evidence in the form of a CDL, the name of their trucking company, and the DOT number on the truck itself.

You can confirm this information with your shipping broker to ensure that it matches the company’s records. You can also take photographic records of the driver’s ID for your own documentation.

2. Design Routes to Avoid “Red Zones”

a highway route that avoids red zone

Avoid cargo theft by making it harder for thieves to gain access to your shipping and delivery vehicles. Design your routes to avoid “red zones,” such as unpopulated parking lots or areas of low visibility. 

Your route planning software can also optimize shipping routes to avoid lengthy periods in which the shipment isn’t actively on the road. Additionally, set limits on the number of stops your drivers make, avoiding stops within 300 miles of the origin site. Minimizing the number of stops can cut back on the time that the cargo is vulnerable to theft.

3. Implement Digital Cargo Theft Prevention Measures

Today’s technology allows you to track every shipment in real-time. By itself, this doesn’t prevent cargo theft from happening. However, driving data and load alerts will keep you informed every time the driver makes a stop or leaves a destination. That way, if you do experience a theft, you’ll have a record of everywhere the cargo traveled during its route.

These digital measures will also make it harder for internal theft to occur. Drivers and other personnel may think twice about committing theft since they know they’ll be caught in the act.

4. Don’t Neglect Physical Security

While digital tools are important, don’t overlook the significance of physical cargo theft protection. This can include:

It’s easy to get lax about who comes in and out of your warehouse. Making an effort to maintain a physical security presence can create a culture in which cargo theft becomes all but unthinkable.

5. Publicize Your Security Policy

When you work with multiple logistics partners, it’s important to get everybody on the same page. You don’t have to publicize every detail of your security policy, but you can still be transparent about what sorts of cargo theft security measures you have in place.

Making your security policy known to your employees will also help them know what to look for so they can prevent cargo theft from even happening. Pursuing transparency also alerts would-be thieves that you’re actively working to fight against theft.

6. Work With the Right Logistics Partner

The best security comes from making the right connections. Choose a logistics partner or broker with a track record of taking security seriously and a plan in place to respond to cargo theft if it does occur.

Before partnering with a 3PL provider, ask them about their internal security processes. For example, how do they screen carriers? Have they ever had to deal with cargo theft in the past? If cargo theft were to happen, does the company have the financial resources to make you whole? The best 3PL providers will be willing to answer these and other questions to demonstrate their reliability.

The Importance of Being Prepared for Cargo Theft

Unfortunately, no company will ever succeed in eliminating cargo theft entirely. But by practicing these basic cargo theft prevention strategies, you can minimize your risk and create a culture of safety that even your customers can depend on.