This recent story by NBC’s “Today Show” brought to public light something that has been plaguing the trucking industry for many years now, theft. Unfortunately, the thieves only seem to be getting better and more sophisticated. They have warehouses they can store stolen product, they have their own truck and trailers to steal and transport product, and they use computers to steal identities of legitimate trucking companies and falsify documents. They also usually have a team of people, so if a broker or shipper is doing their due diligence and calling references and insurance companies, the person on the other end tells you what the thief wants you to hear for them to sound legitimate. All of this affects everyone from the small to large shippers, brokers carriers, insurance companies and eventually getting passed down to the consumer in the forms of out of stock, higher prices and possibly dangerous black market food and drugs.
Types of theft to be aware of
- Tractor/Trailer theft or hijacking
- Breaking into trailer to steal a few items
- Fraudulently posing at a legitimate carrier, picking a load up only to never be heard from again.
- Stealing fuel advances
What does DMTB do to protect it’s customers and carriers
DMTB has a very strict Carrier Qualifying Process to make sure we are using safe and legitimate carriers, along with several cross checks to make sure who is calling is part of the company they say they are representing. We use DAT CarrierWatch to monitor active authority, insurance, inspection scores, WatchDog reports and contact info. We then cross check to make sure contact info given to us matches what is on file with the FMCSA. If our Carrier Coordinators see any red flags, they are required to call the contact on file with the FMCSA to verify that person is in fact an agent for the company. We look for any changes or suspicious items on documents such as Authority page, Certificates of Insurance, etc. While thieves are good at doctoring documents to make them look good, they often miss key details on those documents.
DMTB also subscribes to CargoNet to help protect our customers and carriers. “CargoNet provides a multi-layered solution to the cargo theft problem. CargoNet helps prevent cargo theft and increases recovery rates by facilitating secure information sharing among theft victims, their business partners, and law enforcement.” We also purchase CargoNet decals for drivers to place on their trailers to help deter theft, along with emergency cards for drivers for immediate action in case a theft does happen increasing our chances of recovery.
DMTB is also a few weeks away from releasing a driver a cell phone app. The app will provide many features to benefit our drivers and make their lives easier, but also adds a signature confirmation and tracking feature so customers can get real time updates of exactly where their freight is on the road.
What can Carriers/drivers do to protect themselves
- Be sure all of their contact info is up to date with the FMCSA.
- Don’t have documents accessible to anyone on your website and only send those documents to people you trust. The Carrier should qualify the broker just as brokers qualify the carrier.
- Tell your drivers to watch their surroundings as they arrive and depart from their shipping location. (Be extremely cautious when picking up high dollar loads, electronics, clothing, food, metals, building materials)
- Try to avoid truck stops in high theft areas: Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, NY/NJ. If you have to stop take extra precaution.
- Do not leave truck or trailer unattended in an unsecured lot.
- Always lock your doors and keep music low when on breaks so that you can hear any suspicious activity.
- Be on alert if a vehicle strikes you from behind. According to CargoNet it is a common “play” in order to stop and rob the driver.
- Keep pen and paper handy to note any suspicious vehicle descriptions if you think they may be following you and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.
- Take an extra moment to look at your surroundings before you open your doors to unload product.
- Don’t allow your routes to become too predictable, change them up to throw off anyone who may be watching you.
What can Shippers do
- Confirm with the company hiring the transportation that the name on the side of the truck matches who they say they are sending in.
- Look for any temporary signage on the door of the tractor. While this can be common, it could also be a red flag in some cases. Make a quick call to verify the hiring company knows who it is.
- Take a copy of the drivers license, make sure it’s a legitimate ID matching the driver.
- Use a tracking device in your freight. Many refrigerated loads already use temperature recorders, some upgraded devices have tracking capability as well.
We will never be able to stop all thieves, no matter what we do they will adapt and change. But if everyone works together and does a little extra due diligence hopefully we can put a big dent in the problem. Remember, if something seems suspicious it probably is. Take a minute to step back and evaluate the situation and maybe you can prevent a theft from occurring next time.