MILTON, Ont. – While truck stops are intended to be a safe place where drivers can eat, shower, refuel and rest, they can also be a breeding ground for some less-than-savoury characters.
As such, it’s not uncommon for a driver to see something he might label as “suspicious” during a routine stop. But the question is how to deal with what they’re seeing.
In one incident from 2007, a security chief for Milton, Ont.-based Truck Town Terminals went with his gut when he saw a car and tractor-trailer illegally parked, and his actions resulted in the seizure of $8 million in cocaine (see cover story from this issue).
But are truckers themselves willing to play the hero? We went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Milton, Ont. to see if drivers would get involved if they saw suspicious activity at a truck stop.
Claude Laur, a veteran trucker driving for Load One out of Taylor, Mich., says he is likely to leave security matters up to the professionals rather than “play Rambo.”
“I really don’t want to get shot, but I would report it to security; that’s what they’re for,” he says.
“I’m American and I travel in Canada and Canada doesn’t allow me to carry a gun or any weapons; pepper spray or any kind of weapon. I look at it this way: it’s up to them to protect me while I’m a guest in their country. I can’t carry that stuff or they won’t let me back.”
Marty Sherk, a Canadian driver working for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Landstar Ranger, says that if it the suspicious activity in question doesn’t involve a child or a woman, he’s likely to do nothing.
“Basically, I wouldn’t get involved unless there was a reason. If I just saw someone dinking around with a truck, I wouldn’t really say much. I’ve seen a lot of weird happenings. You name it, I’ve seen it,” he says.
“I haul big, expensive machinery and I just come into the truck stops to eat, maybe, and that’s it. I try to stay out of them because there’s always something going on.”
Abe Hibert, a driver with G2 Logistics out of Winnipeg, Man., says if he saw something suspicious, he would definitely get the cops involved.
“I carry a hammer with me here, that would be about the only thing I have for my protection if need be. Other than that, I’d have to rely on the police to help me out. I haven’t had to use the hammer yet and I don’t intend to.”
Gary Patcheson, a driver with Hillman’s Transfer out of Sydney, N.S., says he would likely report it if he saw something fishy, especially because of the value of his own freight.
“There is some stuff that may not be important to everyone, but is definitely important to someone. I probably would watch them and if they were suspicious to me and if it warranted it then, yeah, I would say something,” he says.
For his own protection, Patcheson tries to park in a well-lit area with the most trucks, and also makes sure to take his cell and wallet with him and always locks his truck.
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