Cargo theft is serious business. From trucks, trains, and ships, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) claims cargo theft costs the US economy billions of dollars each year. The stolen goods are usually resold online or occasionally directly out of illicit warehouses. Both the FBI and the National Insurance Crime Bureau actively monitor and investigate the problem, treating cargo theft as a threat to the American economy as a whole, not simply the individual businesses whose goods are stolen.
How much is stolen and what types of goods are involved vary somewhat from year to year. In terms of number of incidents, recent years have seen the food and beverage industry take the hardest hit, with almost twice as many incidents as the runner-up, electronics, according to FreightWatch.
But the food and beverages sector is particularly sensitive. First, these goods are often perishable and the chance of recovering them in a salable state is small. Clothing, for example, does not go bad and become poisonous, as food and beverage items can.
Fortunately, there are a couple of things carriers can do to keep their goods safe.
First, GPS tracking software makes it possible for trucks to alert their owners if they start moving when they are not supposed to or if they leave a given geographic area unexpectedly. With these alerts, fleet managers can discover if a theft has occurred almost immediately, letting the police begin a recovery attempt in a timely manner.
Second, both the manager and the police can use the system to track the vehicle in real-time. Obviously, that makes it much easier for police to catch up with the thieves. The tracking devices themselves are hidden and well-protected so that thieves cannot disable them. A Teletrac customer recently saw this scenario come to life in Southern California with his limousine fleet. After the fleet manager noticed one of his vehicles was missing, he was able to communicate with a police team and guide them during the stolen car event utilizing live interactive mapping. The vehicle was recovered in a short time span thanks to the collaborative effort between the police and the GPS software.
Third, the software comes in bundles with two-way communication capacity so that drivers can call for help if attacked. Fleet managers can also contact drivers and ask what is going on if the vehicle leaves it’s designated geo-fence zone, indicating to the fleet manager that unauthorized activity has occurred and making it easier to identify a problem as fast as possible.
The bottom line is that the FBI is taking charge of dealing with cargo theft nationwide, but individual carriers do not have to just sit around and wait for the Feds to work. Fleet managers can catch theft before it’s too late.