Editorial Comment: Reducing the risk of cargo theft

Last month, you may have found within your issue of Truck News a special supplement on cargo security. It was sponsored by SGI and can now be viewed in the Knowledge Centers section of our Web site, Trucknews.com.

We continue to build out this module, with the addition of video to further raise awareness about cargo theft and how it can be prevented. As part of this project, I recently visited with Norm Sneyd, v.p. of business development with Bison Transport. We spent a couple of hours discussing cargo theft and what Bison does to prevent it. Norm also took videographer Brad Ling and I on a tour of nearby yards to see how trailers can be properly parked to reduce the risk of a theft.

We learned a lot from Norm, and you can watch video interviews we conducted with him in that same Knowledge Centers module I referenced above. They’ll be online within the next few weeks. For now, here are a few tips from Bison Transport on how to reduce the risk of cargo theft.

For starters, back loaded trailers up tight against a wall. There’s more than one good reason to back up tight to a wall or other fixed object when parking a loaded trailer. Of course, it makes it much more difficult to open the trailer doors when you can’t get at them, and that’s the obvious benefit, but parking this way also protects the seal.

A disgruntled driver or good-for-nothin’ scallywag who can access the trailer door with little to no difficulty can snip off a trailer seal, possibly rendering the value of the cargo inside worthless – especially if the trailer’s carrying perishable product.

Bison has gone so far as to erect concrete walls along the rows of lots where it parks a lot of trailers, so that trailers on both sides can be parked with their rear doors directly against the concrete barrier.

I also learned drivers really shouldn’t stop for breaks near the border. Norm said drug-runners have been known to hang out at truck stops near the border, looking for south- or northbound trucks. When they see a parked truck, they’ll slide under the trailer bolt on a box containing contraband, follow the truck across the border and then remove their goods the next time the truck stops. The truck driver is unwittingly taking on the risk of a lengthy stint in prison.

Also, drivers should always keep an eye out for anything that seems unusual. Think you’re being followed? Pull off at a rest area, drive through and then re-enter the highway. Did the suspicious car do likewise? Chances are good they’re tailing you. This may seem far-fetched, but one Bison driver did this recently and reported the suspicious vehicle. The police apprehended the car’s occupants who were armed and dangerous.

Bison also employs a Neighbourhood Watch program, so that drivers and staff are encouraged to report suspicious activity. If their tips lead to an arrest, cash prizes of up to $5,000 are given to tipsters.

Cargo theft was once a taboo subject in the trucking industry. Finally, the industry and law enforcement have acknowledged they have a problem here and are taking steps to prevent it.

James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at jmenzies@trucknews.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/JamesMenzies.

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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 james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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