Ah, Christmas. Don’t you just love this time of year? Sales are up. Stock is flying out. And the chancers are filling their boots, bags and articulated lorries at every available opportunity. In the cargo industry, it seems that Christmas is not so much a time of giving as of grabbing everything that can conceivably be lifted – tools, fuel, parts, vehicles, and, of course, cargo. Theft is a problem at any time of the year, but with so much stuff flying around in the run up to Christmas, the losses can take on epic proportions. So, what can you do to protect your stock?
5 Ways to Protect Against Cargo Theft
#1 Keep quiet.
It’s nice to think that you can trust the people around you, but the fact is that the more people who know what you’re sending and where it’s going, the more likely it is that you’ll encounter losses. Keep both cargo and drop-off locations – and thus routes – on a need-to-know basis. This reduces the opportunity for the freebooters to do what they do best.
#2 Audit your distribution centre.
Unfortunately, a lot of cargo theft takes place before it’s left the supplier. More still takes place thanks to employer collusion – your workers may not be taking the goods themselves, but they may get a cut from a guy with a big white van for a tip-off on cargo details, destinations, planned routes and number plates. An inventory management system, which allows you to track who has dealt with which shipment and when can make catching the light-fingered and loose-lipped considerably easier. If you need to get rid of suspect employees, do it. Surveillance can help with this. If someone has got away with something for long enough, over-confidence will eventually give them away.
#3 Know your supply chain.
If you use an external logistics company, get to know the people you’re working with. Choose a brand with a strong, positive reputation, and make enquiries about their security measures. Plexus Freight, for example, has company-wide policies to ensure full staff discretion, internal audits and staff reviews are regularly carried out, and all personnel receive in-depth security training. Getting to know the carrier and driver schedule, and verifying driver identity at pick-up time can also prevent a lot of issues. If you don’t know a driver and they claim not to have ID, call the main office to authenticate before handing over any goods.
#4 Use technology – new and old.
GPS logistics trackers have come down in price considerably in recent years, so if you’re experiencing a lot of theft, it could be worth investing. Likewise, with in-house couriers working with high-risk goods or areas, geofencing solutions are available. And never underestimate the power of a hefty great padlock when it comes to theft deterrence.
#5 Driver awareness.
A massive amount of ‘slash-and grab’ cargo theft takes place when on the road. The SCREEN cargo theft report for Q1 2018 states that it accounts for 63% of all lost cargo. Some of this can be prevented by adhering to the previous pointers of auditing staff and limiting knowledge, but driver awareness is also key. If parking up overnight, Plexus Freight drivers only use designated, well-lit rest spots. Doors are locked at all times, whether the vehicles are occupied or otherwise. Every driver is trained in safe parking practices. All vehicles are alarmed. And if drivers notice any suspicious activity, they call it in. It seems like common sense, doesn’t it? Not all companies implement such procedures.
The cost of cargo theft has escalated significantly in recent years. With the UK economy still struggling after the recession and in light of Brexit, there’s no reason to expect that this will change any time soon. Whether or not your company becomes a victim is down to the decisions that you make now. Here’s hoping that your Christmas is free from fa-lalala-la-la-la-la-ing looters.