News & Events

Preventing Cargo Theft Over the Holidays

Motor carriers should be mindful of the increased risk of theft as the holidays approach. December is a busy shopping month, and to prepare for it, warehouses and trailers are filling up with valuable inventory. These make for target-rich environments to would-be thieves, so here are some loss prevention tips that can help motor carriers and drivers decrease their exposure. 



  • Require all personnel who will have access to cargo areas, including vendors, contractors, maintenance, and clerical workers to provide a detailed employment application that includes a photograph and lists residences and prior employment for the past 10 years, if applicable.
  • Screen all employment applications to verify address and prior employment.
  • Have applicants list all vehicles used for work; information should include license numbers and descriptions.
  • Maintain a random drug testing program, including "probable cause" testing. 
  • Limit the number of employees who have access to shipping information.
  • Set up a reporting procedure that includes a substantial reward plan so company drivers and other employees can and will provide information about possible criminal activity.
  • Implement a “no stop” policy for drivers picking up containers for local delivery.
  • Prepare a driver handbook listing the rules so drivers can be held accountable. For example, rules should cover policies on stopping en route and parking loads in unsecured areas. Inform drivers as part of the hiring procedure they will be terminated if they violate these policies.
  • Make sure each driver has a 24-hour phone number for management personnel that he or she can call in the event of an emergency.
  • Use padlocks on all pickup and delivery units, and require drivers to lock all doors when they are away from the unit.

Physical Security

  • Either provide your own guards or hire a reputable guard service. Question the service about its hiring practices. Insist that it conduct the same background checks on its guards that you do on your drivers.
  • Spot check the guards on an irregular basis to make sure they’re on the job doing what you want done.
  • Place the guards in an inaccessible area where they can monitor activities at your facility yet be secure and safe from assault. Make sure they have good communications and know whom to notify in the event of a problem.
  • Conduct a physical security audit of your facility. Are you using lighting, fencing, and closed-circuit television to the best possible advantage?
  • Limit yard access after normal business hours.
  • Set up specific procedures concerning the type of documentation required before a driver is allowed to leave the yard. Hold guards accountable for obtaining this documentation.
  • Conduct lunch box inspections.

Operational Practices

  • Make sure you have complete records of all the equipment in your yard overnight, especially license plate numbers and container and trailer numbers.
  • Install high-quality pin locks on trailers or containers that are left in your yard overnight.
  • Install time-lapse surveillance cameras in your yard and locate them so they clearly identify a driver and tractor-trailer leaving the yard.
  • Consider installing fuel cut-off valves, tracking systems, and other security devices on your equipment. Heavy-duty padlocks should be mandatory on all trailer and container doors.
  • Paint tractor or trailer numbers on roofs so they are visible from the air.
  • Do not leave loaded trailers or containers in your yard overnight.
  • Do not accept late deliveries that you can’t offload that day.
  • Frequently check your yard at different hours.
  • Get to know the police officers who work in your area. Make it a point to acquaint them with your operational procedures.


  • Always lock tractor doors and make sure all trailer and container doors are secured with a heavy-duty padlock.
  • Keep tractor windows rolled up until you are on the open road.
  • Always carry information on your person concerning identification of the tractor and trailers, chassis, or containers you are pulling. This includes license numbers, container numbers, and physical characteristics.  Law enforcement can’t act on a cargo theft without this information.
  • Maintain regular communication with your dispatcher, and let him or her know of anything suspicious or odd.
  • Don't talk about your load on the citizens' band radio -- cargo thieves listen, too.
  • When possible, vary your delivery route.
  • When possible, go directly to your delivery point without making any stops.
  • When you need a rest stop, park in areas where other truckers are present. Hijackers don’t like crowds.
  • Stop only at reputable truck stops along your route – and don’t stop at the same location every time.
  • Don't stop on dark freeways or in deserted areas while waiting to make deliveries.
  • Never take your load home, and don’t park it in an unsecured area.
  • When possible, drive in tandem with another truck – it cuts down the risk of being hijacked.
  • Be aware of vehicles following your truck and of strangers asking questions about what you are carrying.
  • Be suspicious of individuals asking you to stop as a result of an alleged traffic accident. Hijackers frequently use this ruse to get drivers to stop. If you are unsure that an accident occurred, drive to a police station or well-lit, busy intersection before stopping.
  • Be especially watchful immediately after picking up your load. The majority of hijackings occur within a few miles of the pickup point. Freeway on- and off-ramps are particularly dangerous.
  • If you are hijacked or your load is stolen, immediately notify the local police by dialing 911. Then call your 24-hour dispatcher.
  • If you are hijacked, always do as instructed by the hijackers, but listen to what is being said and the sounds around you. It may provide law enforcement valuable information about where the thieves have taken your vehicle and load.
  • Try to provide a description of the hijackers and the vehicles they used. You are law enforcement’s best witness.

Information adapted from the Western States Cargo Theft Association. Reposted with permission from Great West Casualty Company.