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Dalton undercover: Part 2


THE STORY SO FAR

Bud convinces Mark to go undercover at a trucking firm to see if he can help stop cargo thefts from the company.

The company was named Chenai Trucking and was owned by a pair of South Asian men who were born in that part of India. Mark had an appointment with the owners on Monday morning at nine, but he got to their Brampton truck yard a half-hour early so he could take a good look around.

The first thing that struck him was that there was no one in the security kiosk at the entrance to the yard, very few light standards and even fewer working lights, and no security cameras anywhere in the yard. The only security feature the place had – if you could call it that – were several office windows that faced out into the yard. That was fine during the day, but without adequate lighting there was no way anyone could see what was going on out there at night, even if they were still in the officer working late.

When the time for his appointment rolled around, Mark entered the trucking office and told the woman behind the front desk that he was there to meet
Sunny and Premal. She asked him to have a seat, but one of the two men appeared before she had the chance to summon him on the phone.

“Good morning,” the man said, extending his hand. “I’m Sunny.”

“Mark. Mark Dalton.”

“Glad you could make it.” He turned. “We can talk in my office.”

Mark followed Sunny into a small room just off the reception area. He stepped in and Sunny closed the door behind him.

“Please, sit.”

Mark took one of the hard plastic seats facing the office. It was a threadbare office with just a few filing cabinets spread around the room. There was wood panelling on the walls with a handful of trucking industry calendars hanging from nails hammered into the wood. None of the calendars were for the current year.

Sunny squeezed around the wooden desk taking up most of the space in the room and sat in the big office chair behind it. “You were here early.”

Mark was surprised that these were the first words out of his mouth, but eventually nodded. “Just wanted to see what your set-up was like.”

“And?”

“You need a security gate with a security guard in it 24/7, and a couple of security cameras covering the entire yard…for a start.”

Sunny nodded. “We are working on getting those things. Money’s a little tight right now with so many thefts from our yard, but we’ll get a proper set-up eventually.”

“Money’s an issue everywhere,” Mark said. “But if you don’t fix your security issues and reduce your thefts, companies aren’t going to want to ship with you.”

Sunny smiled. “It doesn’t cost us when one of our trucks gets stolen.”

Mark was taken aback by the man’s comment, but did his best to maintain a poker face. How could someone be so casual about having cargo stolen right from under his nose? Any trucking company owner Mark had ever known would be incensed and most would camp out in their yard with a video camera and a shotgun after the first theft. This guy didn’t seem to care.

“That might be true,” Mark said at last. “But your customers can’t be thrilled that they’re losing
product.”

“Of course not, but that’s why they have
insurance.”

“How long have you been in business?” Mark asked after a lengthy moment of silence.

“Chenai Trucking has been operating for 15 years.”

Mark took a good look at Sunny. He was young – very young – and he didn’t look much like a truck person. His clothes were new and a bit on the flashy side and his haircut was almost a work of art with the sides shaved tight and a precise part down the right side of his head. “You don’t look like you’ve had a licence for more than 10.”

Sunny smiled. “This company was founded by my father-in-law, Premal. He started with a single straight truck, and now we have five company drivers and 15 owner/operators driving for us.”

“Where is he now?”

“In the hospital. He’s having cancer treatments.” A pause. “He’s getting better, but it’s likely he won’t be back at work anytime soon.”

Mark took a moment to form a picture of what was going on at this company. Basically, the owner was getting old and a new guard was taking over…someone who was probably looking to squeeze as much out of the company as he could. Mark didn’t like the vibe he was getting from this man, Sunny.

“With so many drivers,” he said, “what do you need me for?”

“You sir,” Sunny said, leaning forward on his desk, “came highly recommended. As I understand it, you’ve foiled thieves and robbers all over Canada.”

Mark smiled.

“After I was told your name I asked some of my drivers if they’d ever heard of you and they said they had. One told me you foiled a smuggling ring in the United States. Another told me you once had an organized crime hitman target you in Northern Canada and you put them all in jail without getting a scratch on you.”

“Well, yeah… those things are true.” Mark was flattered. All of the reservations he’d had just a few minutes before were gone.”

“So. You’re the best. Who else do we need?”

“I can’t argue with that,” Mark said, beaming. “I’m your man.”

Cargo theft was always a problem in the trucking industry but the trend had spiked in past years with over 400 reported thefts last year in Southern Ontario alone with losses in Canada costing upwards of $5 billion. Considering that 90% of everything is moved by a truck as some point, it’s not surprising that just about anything and everything has been stolen by cargo thieves from candy to inkjet cartridges, laundry soap to potato chips.   

Thieves had taken a couple of Mark’s loads over the years but this was the first time he’d be taking loads hoping his load would get stolen.

That afternoon, Mark showed up at a warehouse in Mississauga for a load of electronics headed for a distributor in North Bay. When the shipper – a man of South Asian descent – realized Mark was there working for Chenai Trucking, there was a confused look on his face.

“You here for Chenai?”

“Yeah,” Mark said. “Why?”

“You’re so…white”

“Is that not allowed?”

“First I’ve seen working for them.” A smile. “Chenai is a province in India. All of their drivers, except for you, have been Indian.”

Mark smiled, understanding he was obviously a fish out of water. “They’ve had a lot of cargo stolen. I was hired to help try and stop it.”

“I see,” said the shipper. “You think you can help?”

Mark smiled. “I’m going to try.”


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