Cargo theft: Top 3 tips to avoid putting your driver and cargo at risk!

In January 2020, the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) reported that 16 pallets of clothing and footwear worth €101,958 were stolen from a trailer in an unclassified parking location near Peterborough. This is just one of 61 such crimes reported in the UK in a single month. Over the same period, there were 27 reported cargo thefts in Germany. They included the loss of trucks, car parts, tools, building materials and 200 crates of bottles.

One of the phone calls every fleet operator dreads is that call from their driver informing of a cargo theft crime that has taken place or even worse, the truck and trailer have been stolen! In January 2020, the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA EMEA) reported 6,463 cargo thefts in EMEA for 2019. Among these incidents, 74.6% involved cargo thefts in the United Kingdom and Germany.  TAPAs data is a smaller snapshot of crime statistics, many crimes go unreported or data is not shared between nations.

The European Parliament research estimates that cargo crimes cost European businesses in the region of €8.2bn per year. 

Fortunately, shippers and their drivers can take measures to minimise the risk of cargo theft.

Thefts and parking

Thefts in parking areas is a recurring theme. An annual research report on global cargo theft, by the TT Club, found that the majority of cargo thefts in Europe (40%) took place in rest areas while unsecured roadside parking accounted for 14% of thefts. 

Cargo theft: Top 3 tips to avoid putting your driver and cargo at risk!

The report says “All major countries are of concern for cargo theft in the region, including in the UK and Germany, lack sufficient secure parking locations, creating ample and easy opportunities for thieves to strike at vehicles.

Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 that limit the length [of time] that cargo truck drivers can operate before taking a mandatory break exacerbate the lack of secure parking, and often force drivers to stop in vulnerable locations.”

Most tempting categories for thieves

Food and beverages are the most tempting category for thieves, responsible for 28% of thefts. The next most popular category is electronics with 13% and alcohol and tobacco at 10%.

The report also highlights the ease with which thieves can cut their way through the soft covers of curtainsiders. This is an issue as curtainsiders are the most popular form of trailer.

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Mental health impact

Cargo theft is also having a negative effect on the mental health and well-being of drivers. A survey of 350 people working in the German freight sector by SNAP, a specialist payment service, found that one in three workers believed that cargo crime has negatively impacted their mental health and close to half of the respondents know someone who has been affected.

62% of respondents blamed increased cargo theft on a lack of secure parking. Many also believe that rising volumes of traffic on the roads and the greater value of deliveries are contributing factors. 

Three top tips to prevent cargo theft

Here are three top tips for protecting your drivers and trailers against cargo theft.

1. Secure parking

The best way to avoid cargo theft is to park in a secure parking area. There are several app-based services available through which drivers can identify secured parking areas on their journey, and, in some cases, book them ahead of arrival. Drivers can access:

  • The International Transport Forum’s TRANSPark app which includes information on vehicles monitoring at safe parking areas.

Solution: TIP secure parking facility

We recently opened Delta Park, our first secure parking facility. It is the first in the TAPA Parking Security Requirements programme to have achieved the highest level. Delta Park is in Northern France, 1km from the junction of the A1 and the A21. This is the busiest road hub in Europe with more than 25,000 heavy trucks passing daily. It provides strong security for drivers, trailers and their goods. Delta Park also offers driver facilities including free showers, free wi-fi, laundry service and snack vending machines, all available 24/7 and a restaurant. (source: TIP)

2. Cargo theft prevention kit

The EU has created a downloadable Security Toolkit for Truck Drivers to help European truck drivers “address cargo theft, stowaway entry to trucks and terrorism on European roads”. It recommends installing technology-driven cargo theft prevention solutions including:

  • Track & trace. Consider introducing vehicle trackers, cargo trackers and remote vehicle immobilisation.
  • Awareness & response. Link smartphone apps to sensors on the vehicle with alerts for unexpected intrusion. Equip your truck with an anti-thief mist generator.
  • Access control. Use electronic keys and biometric driver identification.
  • Locks & seals. Install specialist locks including ones with a remote reporting capability.

Other categories include alarms and detectors; camera surveillance for trucks and trailers and data-driven driver selection. 

Solution: TIP DoorPlus telematic solution

DoorPlus is a magnetic door contact that detects whether a trailer door is open or closed. It provides a record of guardianship, for example by sending an “open/closed” value to prevent unauthorised opening of trailers. The solution visualises door status changes both in real-time and in a historical overview chart in the FleetConnected platform.

  • detects door opening / closing & reports to back-end platform
  • provides additional security for high-value cargo
  • helps ensure cargo temperature is retained
  • also for non-refrigerated box-vans

DoorPlus offers the peace of mind that a simple padlock cannot. 

3. Trailers and trucks – fit for purpose

Swissinfo reported a recent surge in violent money truck robberies taking place at night in Western Switzerland. Due to local regulations concerning night-time traffic, the transport operators are obliged to use ordinary vans to transport cash rather than armoured ones. This makes them an easy target for robbers.

Curtainsider trailers can be easily slashed by thieves due to the fabric of their soft walls. Incidents like these reinforce the importance of ensuring that your trailers and trucks are fit for purpose and as strengthened as possible, particularly for carrying valuable loads. If you don’t have the right trailer in your fleet to ensure a safe delivery, why not consider renting one?

Solution: TIP trailer leasing and rental

TIP Trailer Services is a leading provider of trailer leasing, rental, maintenance and repair to customers in transport and logistics companies in Europe and Canada. TIP has the expertise and experience to advise on the best ways to protect your trailer and cargo from theft.

Our customers range from multinational transport companies with large fleets to owner-drivers with a single trailer.  We operate in eighteen countries covering Canada and the European countries (Benelux, Central Europe, the Nordic countries, the Mediterranean and the UK and Ireland).

TIP’s trailer fleet of over 100,000 is spread across 78 locations, with a network of depots all over Europe.  Our wide range of telematics solutions also help our customers measure and manage their fleet efficiency, to add extra value to their business. It gives our customers international reach and convenience, flexibility and peace of mind as we can provide them with any trailer and associated service that they need, wherever they are.

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For more information on how you can protect your trailers from cargo theft and/or rent a trailer with suitable anti-theft reinforcement and protection, please contact your local TIP Trailer Services manager.