Preventing Cargo Theft

While minimizing the theft of cargo and product is a good call any time of year, your warehouse is at an increased risk for product loss and shrinkage around the holidays due to a number of factors.

The increase in products being delivered and handled, the constant rush of people, items, and trucks into and out of the loading zone…it can all get a little chaotic after a while, and that chaos is the perfect opportunity for the less-scrupulous drivers, workers, and thieves among us to run off with a couple pallets of hot holiday items. In order to protect your workers, your items, and your holiday margins from being impacted by thieving hands, here’s a few quick holiday tips to help mitigate product and cargo theft:

Increase shipment audits

It’s a time-consuming exercise, but it’s one that can pay off very well in the long run. By increasing the amount of counts and audits you perform of incoming shipment (as well as product currently stored in the warehouse), you can better verify the on-hand item counts and reduce the chance of someone running off with items by making sure your items are counted vigilantly and frequently. Schedule nightly, twice-weekly, or regular item counts to ensure your on-hand counts are up to date – any potential thieves will be put off knowing that any product shrinkage will be caught almost immediately.

Stage all loading/unloading in secure yards

Due to a number of factors – employees off on long holiday weekends, lack of available property space, etc – cargo loads more often than not have to happen in unsecured parking lots and/or yards that aren’t directly on company property. Stage as many loads as possible in well-lit areas populated with security personnel to prevent any kind of hijacking or cargo theft en route to the warehouse – as old-fashioned as it sounds, you’d be shocked at how often it still happens.

Train your workers on knowledge of their storage

A common cause of theft and loss is items not being put away properly, leaving them at more risk than normal for theft. Train your workers on safe and proper storage of items on things like pallet racks and wire shelving, to make sure nothing gets left behind or nothing is left stored incorrectly and can be easily walked off with (and later blamed on ‘storage issues’).

Plan safer shipment routing

It might sound like something from a Mad Max movie, but a lot of trucks on common trucking routes are in greater danger of hijacking and theft than trucks farther off the beaten path – otherwise, thieves have been known to ‘case’ areas and look for the spots with common cargo truck traffic to try to rob from. Make sure your logistics partners are planning their routes carefully and safely, and make sure drivers aren’t allowed to stop within “the red zone” (the first 200 miles or 4 hours from their starting point) as these are known hotbeds for cargo theft.

Watch out for ‘fictitious pickup’

In recent years, fraud has become the most common cause of cargo theft above and beyond simple robberies or hijacking. In ‘fictitious pickup’, thieves use fraudulent credentials to disguise themselves as a representative of a legitimate carrier, sign a contract to pick up the load, and then drive off with your goods. These thieves have grown increasingly savvy in using web-based brokering and increasingly complicated credentials to gain access to cargo, even going so far as to set up fictional companies online to obtain insurance. Take as much care as possible to maintain a consistent relationship with your logistics provider, and use tools like CargoNet or FreightWatch to look out for thefts in your area.

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