Build a sense of security with data

by Kevin Cole

The security procedures that are followed in fleet yards or warehouses are dedicated to exposing criminals who are hiding in the shadows. It’s why lights and video cameras are aimed at parking lots in the first place.

But the underlying threats which require such procedures will be found hiding in the data about criminal activities.

For example, some shipments are clearly more coveted than others. Thieves are always searching for high-value consumer goods such as electronics, alcohol and pharmaceuticals, as well as loads of meat and produce which are easy to sell and difficult to trace.

Even scrap material can be targeted when the value of related commodities begins to surge. Trusted sources including Freightwatch International and local police departments regularly report on the goods that are most likely to be at risk. The operators of neighbouring fleet yards are a source of information, too.

Fleets can identify yards or routes at the highest risk of such thefts by monitoring the Non-Violent Crime Index compiled by Statistics Canada, which gathers data from 232 police services.

After all, cargo crimes are less likely to involve an armed hijacking than someone who simply hooks up to a stolen trailer and drives away.

Personal experience shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Fleets that track cases of vandalism or attempted break-ins will be able to identify vulnerable locations around a specific facility. The countermeasures such as extra security teams, refined access procedures and even yard layouts can then be planned accordingly.

The good news is that watchful eyes can extend well beyond the fences around a fleet yard. Today’s tracking systems are even able to build a virtual “geofence” around a moving truck, and identify whenever a load strays too far from a scheduled route. Team drivers, meanwhile, can help limit the need to park equipment for an extended period of time.

Other threats can be traced to third parties who interact with the same freight – so the security efforts of every partner in the supply chain will need to be reviewed and studied. Those who participate in initiatives such as Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), Partners in Protection (PIP), or the pharmaceutical industry’s Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) program will all need to meet related security protocols.

The collected information can then be used to focus security efforts where they will make the biggest difference. For example, the yards at the greatest risk of thefts will likely benefit from an alarm system triggered if someone cuts through a fence or breaks a window.

The alarms themselves can include warnings for employees on site or even extend to third-party monitoring agencies. Security personnel can be instructed to walk through a site’s vulnerable areas at staggered intervals, so thieves will never know when somebody might be nearby.

Drivers can help to thwart future thefts by reporting attempts to bribe them for information, freight that seems to be left in an unguarded area of a loading dock, or an unidentified vehicle in the fleet yard. Even anonymous tips are helpful. The successes of programs such as Crime Stoppers have proven that.

But all too often, employees are slow to raise any questions at all. On many occasions I have tucked a black portfolio under my arm and simply wandered through a new customer’s warehouse or loading dock without ever being asked why I’m there. In contrast, the widespread use of company IDs, security cards and related policies would quickly identify someone who is out of place.

Each and every planned barrier will play a role in deterring thieves. Want to prevent thieves from simply driving into a hidden area of the yard? Consider berms, rocks and other landscaping to limit potential access points.

Need to slow someone’s path through a door or gate? Control the keys and codes to any locks. Want to make it tougher to scale a fence? Ensure that any surrounding trees are trimmed.

In addition to locking and sealing trucks and trailers, equipment can be further secured by adding pin or gladhand locks. The same systems which latch onto ICC bars and hold trailers securely against a dock will help to keep the cargo secure, as will the empty trailers that are simply parked against their loaded counterparts.

No system is foolproof.

Every step or system can be overcome if a thief is persistent. But the steps that are based on a well-informed security strategy will clearly discourage the criminals who would rather remain in the shadows.


This month’s expert is Kevin Cole, risk services specialist. Kevin has served the trucking industry for more than 25 years providing loss control and risk management services to the trucking industry. Northbridge Insurance is a leading Canadian commercial insurer built on the strength of four companies with a long standing history in the marketplace and has been serving the trucking industry for more than 60 years. You can visit them at

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