Cargo theft is a rising issue for shippers across the county, especially in the food and beverage industry. In fact, it was one of the highest-targeted commodities in North America, accounting for 33% of cargo thefts in 2020, with the average loss valued at $87,556. 
Cargo theft can have a negative impact on your business, but there are protocols and precautions you can put in place to help avoid them. Here, we will walk through our tips for preventing theft, including carrier selection, tamper-proof packaging, warehouse management systems, and inventory management. And for those times when theft does occur, we’ll share what you should know about cargo insurance.
Tips for Mitigating Your Risk of Cargo Theft
Ways to Safeguard Your Cargo Before You Ship
According to a recent report, 74% of cargo thefts in 2020 took place while the cargo was in transit compared to just 6% in warehouses. Here is what you should know about preventing cargo theft while in transit.
Choose the Right Carriers
As a shipper, you have the power to set your security standards with your carriers. When choosing your carriers or logistics partner, be sure to ask about their current practices. You can also inquire about their history records related to safety and theft to ensure they meet your security requirements. Ask questions like:
- What training do your drivers go through to ensure they are up to date on latest security measures?
- How do you track driver performance?
- What are your best practices for avoiding cargo theft?
- How do you avoid theft hot spots when planning routes?
- What security measures — such as tamper-proof locks, cameras, or GPS tracking — do you implement on your trucks and trailers?
Package Your Cargo With Theft in Mind
There are ways to package your items to help avoid theft. Knowing that food and beverages are a top target for theft, discreet packaging is one potential solution. Sequentially numbered tape and tamper-evident seals can also help deter thieves. Indicative seals should be added to trailers and cargo to both help prevent theft and more quickly identify when theft does occur.
When theft is unavoidable, tracking down your cargo is a top priority. Reusable tracking devices that use GPS technology can be stored within your cargo to track your shipments and help locate stolen freight. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are smart labels that can also be used to track items in transport. These types of tracking solutions don’t necessarily prevent cargo theft, but they increase the likelihood of recouping stolen items.
Ultimately, a layered security strategy is best. While just one of these solutions can help deter thieves, a combination of them all will be most effective.
Purchase the Proper Cargo Insurance
The unfortunate truth is that even when you take every precaution, cargo theft can still occur. Ensure all your bases are covered by including cargo insurance in your logistics strategy.
Knowing the difference between liability and insurance is crucial. Carriers are required to obtain liability coverage, but coverage varies by carrier and commodity type. And in some cases, the coverage may be less than the value of the cargo. This is where insurance comes in. Shippers can purchase additional insurance to make sure their goods are fully covered.
When it comes to insurance, there are many available options. Taking the time to learn about the different types of cargo insurance will be beneficial in making strategic decisions. In many cases, all-risk coverage is the smart choice. All-risk coverage typically covers most instances of theft, loss or damage. But every policy is subject to its own terms and exclusions, so you’ll want to discuss your exact concerns with your provider to ensure you are getting the coverage you need.
How to Prevent Cargo Theft at the Warehouse
Far fewer thefts take place at warehouses compared to those happening in transit. But even a small number of thefts can make a difference to your bottom line.
The first step is mastering warehouse management and ensuring your warehouses operate smoothly. Warehouses that aren’t adequately managed are a more common target for theft.
Train Employees on Cargo Theft Prevention
Part of your plan should involve employee training. Make sure your warehouse employees are equipped with the knowledge and necessary resources to identify potential threats of theft. This includes knowing what
to look out for internally as well as taking the time to accurately confirm the identity of a driver and truck that is arriving for a pickup.
It is not uncommon for thieves to disguise themselves as a truck driver using falsified paperwork in order to steal cargo. Your employees should go through training to know how to identify fake credentials. When your employees are particularly busy, they may be tempted to rush through the identification process. It’s the company’s responsibility to give your employees the proper time and encouragement they need — no matter how busy they may be.
Implement a Warehouse Management System
Thefts that occur in warehouses may go unnoticed if your inventory is not accurately tracked. Implementing an advanced warehouse management system will help improve your inventory management so that you can quickly identify missing items.
Set up Security Systems
Even when you are operating an efficient warehouse, implementing technology and properly training employees, thefts can still occur. That’s why you must ensure your warehouses are equipped with advanced security systems. Having alarms and cameras in place will help prevent theft and identify culprits if theft does occur.
Prevent Food and Beverage Cargo Theft With Guidance From GlobalTranz
It can be alarming to see the high rate of cargo theft in the food and beverage industry, but if you implement the precautions we outlined here, you can help your company avoid theft. And in the instances when theft does occur, you have insurance options to keep you covered.