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Theft, Fraud, and the Trucking Industry
May 6, 2016
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Professional and on time freight delivery is the lifeblood of trucking companies. Theft and fraud are two major issues for anyone in the transportation industry, and as a result creative solutions for attacking these risks are sometimes needed.

Statistics show that cargo-related theft accounts for losses of nearly $5B a year in Canada alone and has been growing in recent years. Criminal networks have grown in complexity and organization, as they have identified a criminal endeavour with high rewards and limited risk in cargo theft. Comparatively, cargo theft remains lucrative compared to other forms of criminal activity in numerous areas. A bank robbery, which may only net an assailant $2,000, can result in a 7-10 year jail sentence. Theft of cargo, which can be valued between $200,000-250,000 per shipment, often merely results in probation for a first-time offender. As a result, organized crime with sophisticated distribution networks is playing a growing role in cargo crime, and employees have few legal consequences to deter them from providing crucial information. A lack of integrated solutions across provincial borders and coordination across jurisdictions leaves the cargo industry vulnerable. The transportation industry still has to bear the burden of high deductibles, lost shipments and lost customers when theft of equipment and cargo occurs.

The focus of cargo thieves is varied; while there’s a perception they would target big-ticket items like electronics, over a third of cargo theft is food and drink, largely due to the ease of re-sale.

In response, many cargo companies have begun turning to exterior support to root out corrupt employees, uncover criminal networks, and protect their shipments. Canada has seen an increase in risk solution and investigation providers developing solutions to reduce risk and minimize loss, using leading technology to combat theft. A recent example illustrates one way to combat truck, trailer and cargo theft.

A shipping company was suffering from vandalism damage to its trailers, including offences as serious as brake lines being cut. High-value loads shipped across the Prairies were also experiencing large thefts. While some theft and turnover is anticipated on shipping routes, the numbers were alarming and the company had to look to a solution to reduce losses.

The trucking firm hired an independent investigation firm. This investigation firm installed surveillance programs and placed an operative at the company’s main distribution centre. The centre, which featured a yard which was a high-risk location for theft, was outfitted with covert cameras on four trailers, and used GPS technology concealed on two skids with high-value electronic equipment. This multi-faceted approach yielded quick results.

The hidden surveillance equipment quickly identified a suspect, observed suspiciously under a trailer. The suspect was identified and arrested only three days after the equipment was installed.

The GPS tracking technology led to quick results as well.

Assets were tracked during an approved, scheduled transportation of goods across Canada. Two days into the transportation, one of the tagged skids was improperly removed. By using GPS tracking, the movement of the skid was monitored.

Surveillance video confirmed the skid was illegally removed from the warehouse. Local law enforcement was contacted, and GPS tracking led them to eight pallets of high-value stolen goods, with a value totalling over $350,000. It resulted in three arrests.

The second skid of high-value merchandise also led investigators to illegal activity. An original suspect was connected and eventually caught attempting to liquidate the assets at an auction. Previous merchandise was also recovered.

Four locations were eventually searched and stolen property was recovered from all of them. The entire investigation resulted in nine arrests and the recovery of over $1 million in property.

The transportation industry will have to consider innovative solutions that reduce risk, minimize loss and increase human safety. Experts can use tools such as Closed Circuit Television, GPS tracking, investigation and screening ‘“ including criminal record and driver abstract reviews. This ensures your employees are reliable, competent, and trustworthy.

Recently, a new technology, ‘œgeofencing,” has come into use. It uses GPS and radio frequencies to identify if a tractor, trailer, cargo or some other GPS tracked unit leaves the electronic virtual fence or border .This technology can be used when a GPS tracking unit is attached to shipments to ensure they remain within their original limits, and alert an employer if a transport deviates from its intended shipping route.

This article was written courtesy of MTA member Rick Kosowan, CIP, CRM, Transportation Equipment Cargo (TEC) Specialist, ClaimsPro and Xpera Risk Mitigation and Investigation. For more information contact Richard Kosowan, richard. kosowan@scm.ca Telephone: 204-985-1777

If cargo crime has been an issue for your organization, please ensure that you are reporting it on the IBC Cargo Theft Reporting Tool. This program allows insurers and trucking companies to report cargo theft and claims information to the IBC online, through the CTA or a provincial trucking association. The IBC then distributes the information through its investigative team to regional partners across the country and U.S. The information is maintained in a national database and analysed regularly to identify trends and patterns.

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