Cargo containers

Jack Sparrow may not be real, but pirates and cargo theft are. When you transport goods by sea, land or air, these are at risk not only of damage but also theft. In the months leading up to the holidays, shipment services were not the only ones at their peak – cargo theft was, too.

Shippers and carriers, keeping this in mind, must buy insurance for the products they will ship to minimise financial loss. Companies such as Themecogroup.co.uk provide resources about various insurance products for maritime transport and cargo damage protection, particularly at sea.

In a report by the Supply Chain Risk Exposure Evaluation Network in the UK, the shipping industry lost about £13 million during the first quarter of 2018 because of cargo theft. It lost a further £14 million in the subsequent quarter.

How do cargo thieves pull off the crime?

Truck and containers

Stealing a moving target is difficult, but not impossible. Cargo thieves have different modus operandi when it comes to taking merchandise. Industry professionals say the most popular method to steal cargo is through identity theft.

The thieves pose as truck drivers to gain access to the shipper’s or exporter’s cargo. Fictitious pick-ups also occur in ports. On the other hand, some thieves, once they get information about the form of transport of valuable goods, strategise to “box in” the carrier. They often stake out shipping points, including warehouses, ports and plants.

How can you avoid falling victim to cargo theft?

1. Work with reputable shipping companies.

There are times when the crime is an internal operation or done with help from an insider. Before you entrust your goods to a company, perform background research on your service provider. Request for their registration and license numbers.

Shipping companies that transport by sea should be registered with the Department of International Trade. If the shipping company is a member of reputable organisations, such as the Maritime London and the Maritime UK, chances are it is trustworthy. Airfreight companies, on the other hand, must be registered with Airlines UK.

2. Screen employees and train them about cargo security.

Both shipping company and cargo owner will benefit from honest and trained employees. Workers usually know all the details of the shipment, such as the value, content and destination. If someone wants to get hold of the cargo, they only need to transact with the employee handling the account, and they would know when it will leave port and where it would be.

Shipping companies must thoroughly screen employees to avoid hiring a potential thief. But even then, they must also teach their staff how to detect identity thieves so that the workers avoid transacting with fraudulent “clients” or “truckers.”

Managers of shipping companies must educate truck drivers about hijacking and invest in shipment tracking devices. They can opt to give their employees access to and information about their business partners, or limit it.

Truck drivers must be trained to park wisely when taking breaks. For instance, they should park tail-to-tail with other trucks in a place filled with shipping vehicles. If there are no other trucks, they can find a solid surface to park against to protect the rear doors from being forcibly opened.

3. Take advantage of technology.

Carriers and cargo owners can both benefit from investing in GPS tracking devices. This way, they will know not only the location of the cargo but the estimated time of arrival, as well.

Vehicle immobilisation technology is also a worthwhile investment. When a truck is stolen, this system temporarily disables the vehicle, preventing truck-nappers from driving the truck. Similarly, anti-theft locking devices are useful and affordable.

For companies dealing with a large volume of valuable shipments in their warehouses, they should invest in surveillance cameras and 24/7 perimeter security systems.

Cargo theft is, unfortunately, a typical occurrence, and it hurts the profits of both the shipper and carrier. Apart from protecting goods from possible damage or loss, it’s important to safeguard them from getting stolen or hijacked. Taking precautionary measures is as crucial as buying insurance that protects them from financial loss.

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