The end of the year is a busy time for everyone. There is more traffic from holiday travelers and weather can be challenging.
While the season is often referred to as the “giving season,” we know it’s also the “taking season.” Cargo thefts tend to increase close to a holiday or major retail event, like Black Friday for example. From now until New Years, it is the peak season for cargo theft activity. According to CargoNet, tractor theft was down 17 percent from 2016 and reported thefts totaled $17.2 million, down from $35.1 million from the previous year. Below are some tips to keep you, and your cargo safe:
Pay attention to your surroundings
Whether you are waiting on a load at a customer or stopping for fuel after you’re loaded, take note of your surroundings. Look around and make eye contact with people you might pass. There is a difference between direct eye contact and just looking in a general direction. Making eye contact typically is registered as a feeling of unease or heightened awareness; plus, you have better ability to recognize who you make eye contact with later. Avoid walking with your head down, texting or paying attention to your cellphone. Criminals target individuals that are engrossed or distracted by another activity because they are less likely to report/recognize them later on. Always exercise ‘extra’ caution at night. Be alert, be aware and be cautious.
Choose safe parking
Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas and back up the trailer to a wall or pole (after you get out and look of course). Another suggestion is to park your tractor in the same direction as others around you. Make sure you are using your anti-theft devices and never leave your truck unlocked and unattended. When you are in the truck stop avoid discussing what cargo you have in your trailer or what your next load will be. Use this time to do a mid-trip inspection to ensure your equipment is safe and untampered. Parking where a thief can see a camera is also a good deterrent.
Don’t stop immediately
Especially in high risk areas do not stop immediately after leaving a customer. The recommended distance before stopping is between 150-200 miles. Arrive at the shipper well rested, showered and ready to go. Typically, driving for a while after picking up deters groups or individuals from pursuing anything because it’s not worth the time. Do you notice blacked out SUVS or cars in truck parking only areas? Is there a vehicle that you’ve noticed following you? Does something just feel off about the situation you are in? If you ever feel unsafe contact your fleet supervisor. Your safety is the number one priority and there is nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution. Don’t be afraid to trust your instinct.
Don’t forget, cargo at rest is cargo at risk!