With the Labor Day holiday quickly approaching, it’s important to keep in mind that the three-day holiday is prime time for thieves to take advantage of unattended cargo. During Labor Day weekends between 2013–2017, the SensiGuard™ Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) recorded just under three thefts per day, a 28% higher rate than throughout the year.
There are, however, precautions motor carriers and drivers can take to help prevent what could be a devastating loss:
- Remain cognizant of your surroundings at all times, whether parked or driving, and be particularly observant at night. Pay attention to both vehicles and people in rest areas, parking lots or truck stops, and be cautious of strangers asking questions. Never discuss what you’re hauling, your destination or trip details with anyone as you may lay the grounds for becoming a target. Stay alert for vehicles following you and report any suspicious activity to authorities immediately.
- Do your best to have sufficient hours and fuel to drive an extended period after picking up a load. Thieves will frequently watch a truck being loaded, follow the vehicle for a short time to see if the driver will stop, and then strike when he or she does. Driving several hours is often not worth the time, money or effort for criminals to follow you, and they may turn their attention elsewhere.
- Vary your route to avoid becoming predictable. Thieves are always watching and have been known to monitor the behavior of drivers with high-value loads on multiple runs to learn truck stop preferences, where the driver prefers to spend the night, and what portions of the trip are the most isolated in order to determine the most opportune time to strike.
- When stopped in traffic, leave enough space in front of you so you can pull away quickly if trouble is spotted.
- Remain aware of possible hijacking ploys to obtain your vehicle. Be particularly suspicious of individuals asking you to stop as a result of an alleged traffic accident. If you are unsure whether an accident occurred, proceed to a police station or well-lit busy area before stopping.
- Whenever possible, go directly to your delivery point without making any stops. Don’t take your load home or park in an unsecured area, and avoid having a loaded trailer sit over a long holiday weekend. Remember that cargo at rest for any length of time becomes a prime target. If you must park a loaded trailer, make sure you only park in a well-lit, heavily travelled lot, preferably with security cameras and/or guards. Also use the surroundings to your advantage by backing trailers up against buildings, fences or even other trailers to make it hard or impossible for thieves to open doors and get inside.
- Always remove the keys from the ignition and survey the outside of the truck before exiting.
- Do not allow the tractor to idle unattended.
- Lock your tractor doors and keep windows rolled up; always padlock trailer doors and use kingpin locks. Add layers of protection by using high-security theft deterrents (i.e., engine kill switches, air brake valve locks, steering mechanism locks, GPS tracking devices).
- Know appropriate emergency contact numbers in the areas in which you travel.
- Carry information on your person concerning the identification of the tractor and trailer(s) or chassis and containers you are pulling (license numbers, container numbers, descriptions). This information will be needed if the vehicle is stolen.
- Follow your gut instinct. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t.
- Report any theft to local law enforcement (dial 911) immediately and then contact your insurance company.
Owner Operator Direct provides Commercial Truck Insurance to owner operators. Doesn't matter if you're leased or operating under your own authority, we'll give you a good deal if you're a good driver. Give us a ring at 800-499-1044 from 9-5pm EDT or answer a few questions online and we'll get back to you.