As we prepare to enjoy the holidays, cargo thieves are preparing to take advantage

As the holiday season approaches, beware the Grinches that are preparing to pilfer your loads. Holiday season is a peak time for cargo theft, according to a new report from Northbridge Insurance, which also sheds new light on the thriving illegal business.

Northbridge was able to prepare the report, thanks in part to an increasing willingness within the industry to report such losses. This is partly due to a partnership between the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Insurance Bureau of Canada, which urges carriers to report thefts and creates a central database that can be analyzed to identify cargo theft trends.

Some recent findings include that grocery and household items are the most sought-after by thieves, and there’s an increasing focus being put on meat products. One such stolen load was worth $200,000. Targeting meat requires a coordinated effort and investment in specialized equipment, which leads Northbridge to believe cargo thieves are also becoming more sophisticated.

Heck, they’re not even always ditching the trailer. Thieves are increasingly dismantling the trailer, making it virtually impossible to recover. While Ontario remains the hot spot for cargo theft, the western provinces are seeing an increase in stolen lumber loads and heavy equipment.

Thieves are also taking advantage of the latest technologies to ply their trade. They will breach online broker sites, select high-value deliveries, and then collect those loads fraudulently using a fake identity. By the time the legitimate carriers shows up to collect the load, it’s long gone.

I spoke to Garry Robertson, leader of the Claims Special Investigations Unit at Northbridge, who authored the report, to find out how fleets can fight back. He says it starts with knowing who’s working for you. Make sure you’re not hiring criminals by doing a thorough background check. Often, these thefts begin with inside information.

Also, instruct drivers not to discuss what they’re hauling or where they’re going. It may seem rude to dismiss such questions at the truck stop, which usually amount to nothing more nefarious than small talk, but thieves will often try to find out as much as they can about a load and its destination before they risk stealing it.

Then there’s the general care that needs to be taken around the yard. Don’t leave the trailer in an unsecure area, ensure only approved individuals are allowed access to your facilities, install cameras, and use GPS and geofencing to quickly identify stolen loads before they disappear for good.

Next month, I’ll report in more detail on the report and what fleets can do to eliminate cargo thefts. But until then, keep in mind, the holiday season, when many of us are relaxing with family and trying not to think about work, is when the thieves are at their busiest.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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