Load theft

Don't be without protection

High-value goods transports by truck are attractive targets for criminals. Not every theft can be prevented. But if you know the criminals' tricks, you can fend them off better. We give you an overview of the dangers that exist and how they can be countered.

If the word "tarpaulin slashing" doesn't already give you a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach in the world of logistics, the numbers published this spring by the Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) will worry you at the latest: exactly 6,463 thefts and resulting losses of 172 million euros were noted last year in 56 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the supply chain security association for 2020.

As the authors of this report make clear, the number of unreported cases is much higher. Project CARGO, launched in 2018, funded by the EU and awarded by TAPA in 2020, estimates the damage in the pre-Corona era in Europe alone to be in the high single-digit billions. The robbery of goods and means of transport is a major problem in international road freight transport - analogous to the challenge of cybercrime, which we reported on earlier.

While warehouses are becoming more and more secure, roads and rest areas are becoming the focus of professional gangs - and thus a crime scene. However, old tricks of the criminal trade and newer IT-related methods play a role along the entire supply chain in the criminal hunt for goods and money.

The most important tricks of the load thieves:

  • Imitation of authorities (police officers, traffic officers, cargo receivers, transporters)
  • Direct attacks (roadblocks, breaking through walls for access, gas attacks)
  • GPS jammer to block vehicle surveillance
  • Faking vehicle breakdowns or pointing out alleged damage to the truck in order to rob the driver

Always be alert

While on the one hand the authorities are called upon to prevent, investigate and judge criminal offences, on the other hand, haulage companies and their truckers should also be proactive and vigilant. Detecting well-made copies is not easy in any field. But especially when fake offers are posted on freight exchanges, thieves pose as uniformed persons or goods recipients and collectors, identity fraud can be prevented with a closer look.

The State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt, which is in charge of "Project CARGO", together with colleagues from Germany and abroad, has summarised the dangers and recommendations for action for entrepreneurs, dispatchers and truck drivers in flyers. In addition to the desire for increased vigilance when initiating business, planning tours and on the road itself, vehicle selection, maintenance of existing technology and investment in anti-theft equipment are of course also of great importance. Cut-resistant tarpaulins, a kingpin lock or a drawbar lock offer valuable protection in this context.

Tools from the IT sector

Digitalisation can already support the processing of contracts and the transfer of consignments, and will certainly do so even more in the future with more tamper-proof solutions. Here, for example, the encryption of data using blockchain technology is worth remembering.

The so-called digital seal, attached quasi-invisibly to the truck, strengthens the defence against illegal external interference and records cargo movements with time and location stamps. And if the robbery is successful after all, it helps, among other things, with the documentation of door status changes, which are important when filing claims with the insurance company. Vehicle tracking through telematics applications and digital services such as Geo or One Minute Locator from RIO also provides information on the location of the vehicle at all times. The eternal cat-and-mouse game between law enforcement and criminals is certainly not going to die out any time soon. But transport companies can minimise the risk of becoming victims themselves by taking action.

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