WOODSTOCK, N.B. - On July 8 and 16, thieves stole a total of seven tractors and five trailers from the Woodstock area and Grand Falls, N.B. In fairly short order - RCMP did not provide dates - six of the seven tractors and four of the five...
WOODSTOCK, N.B. – On July 8 and 16, thieves stole a total of seven tractors and five trailers from the Woodstock area and Grand Falls, N.B. In fairly short order – RCMP did not provide dates – six of the seven tractors and four of the five trailers were recovered, minus their cargo. As of Aug. 2, one tractor and one trailer were still missing.
Some of the tractors were recovered in New Brunswick. The other tractors and trailers were recovered, without their cargo, in Saint-Laurent, on the Island of Montreal; Saint-Jerome, just north of Montreal; and Boucherville, across the Saint Lawrence on Montreal’s South Shore.
The haul is unprecedented. “The thefts have carriers scratching their heads. We have received a few reports of thefts, but nothing like this,” says Jean-Marc Picard, executive director, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA). The cargo is said to be worth at least $1.5 million dollars, but RCMP would provide no details of the cargo. Cody Jorgenson, co-owner, Terra Nova Transport in Petitcodiac, N.B. was more forthcoming: he lost a trailer load of power tools from a secure yard in Grand Falls.
There was construction around the entry to that yard, which created a five-day security hole. “There was free rein to the yard,” Jorgenson says.
The theft was caught on surveillance video, time stamped 1:51 p.m. on July 16.
“The guy surveyed a few trailer doors. (He took) a Ryder day cab, leased to Midland Transport, and hooked it up to our trailer. We reported the trailer missing on Sunday the 17th at around 10:15 a.m. Our driver went to the yard and the trailer was not there. The thief had 20 hours to work with that trailer before we even knew it was gone,” Jorgenson says.
Even the few details that police, Jorgenson and APTA have provided Truck News suggest a lot about the thieves, the vulnerability of carriers in Atlantic Canada to theft and the trucking community.
First, the thieves (organized pros from Montreal?) played the classic end-of-week game, which can give them several days’ head start on the law before a report gets noticed or entered into police computers.
Second, Jorgenson suggests that Atlantic Canada carriers are not prepared for this kind of assault.
“This is our first theft in the Maritimes. We don’t expect it or plan for it. Our precautions are focused on the Greater Toronto Area. We don’t follow the safe practices down east, but we are going to have to. Holy, Jesus! Are the thieves coming? They will have access to all the East Coast transporters. We aren’t gated. We are out in the woods.”
On a recent drive around Moncton with his security officer, Jorgenson saw 30 trailers out in the open in an industrial park. “Pick, pick, pick,” he mimes of thieves going shopping.
What really galls Jorgenson is what he sees as a secretive trucking community obsessed with the thought that the next guy might poach his precious outbound loads, and a lack of pulling together as a group to combat cargo crime.
Carriers are reluctant to talk about getting hit and Jorgenson thinks this plays right into thieves’ hands.
“My take on it is, ‘Here’s a carrier that won’t speak out. Let’s keep hitting him.’ I wish more people would talk about this.” He thinks good can happen by going public with thefts: “Two days ago (July 27) I got a random call from a driver. He saw a black and orange tractor, not our colours, with our trailer on it. It raised his eyebrows and he called us. He had heard of our theft in the newspaper and on the radio.”
Some say this July’s blizzard of thefts has the local trucking industry rallying together to raise awareness. When Jorgenson is asked about this, he almost gags. “There is no rallying together, except for calls from Midland, concerned about our trailer. It’s bulls–t. It’s just ranting here. We had a trailer stolen. It’s done. The next time there will be two weeks of screaming, and that will be it.”
When asked whether there have been any meetings to discuss best practices, or plot strategy, Picard says, “Everyone is trying to figure something out, but we haven’t had any meetings yet. I’m pushing my members to talk to each other and report missing equipment. We are putting information on our Web site. We can’t just sit on the sidelines. We have to use our network top help the situation. It will be a topic of our annual general meeting in October. We are tentatively scheduled to have a speaker from the RCMP there.”
Picard then notes that if asked, he knows which carriers he could contact to share some of their solid security knowledge with carriers in need.
“I’ve never caught wind of any meetings to discuss best practices,” Jorgenson says. “But why wouldn’t we have a meeting through APTA? I don’t think carriers want to be involved, and it is not Jean-Marc’s place to get us together (to talk about) our best practices. We are all so scrambled. We are easy targets.”