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How to track and protect valuable assets with cargo security

When profit margins come down to route optimization, fuel efficiency and proper maintenance, cargo theft can be a major blow to trucking companies of all sizes. The average theft value in the trucking industry across the U.S. is $116,717.  According to FBI estimates, only 20% of cargo theft is ever recovered. Taken together, the U.S. shipping and transportation industry loses $15-30 billion per year or more in cargo theft. 

If cargo security can help you prevent even one theft annually, the savings more than pays for itself. Discover how cargo security measures can help you prevent devastating losses. 

How does asset tracking help protect cargo? 

Asset tracking helps protect cargo during downtime and other vulnerable moments. Thieves usually look for assets they can take that give them significant time to get away before you’ll notice. This includes trucks that are parked in remote areas or unattended for the weekend. Asset tracking improves visibility and allows you to more effectively respond to events for improved cargo security.

But asset tracking does more than show where a trailer is. Other common information you’ll get through asset tracking includes alerts about:

  • A trailer or container being opened outside of business hours
  • Other movements outside business hours, including a truck or trailer leaving a loading or unloading area
  • An asset leaving your region of service
  • The wrong truck picking up your trailer
  • Trailer doors opening outside of a loading or unloading area 

Asset tracking also permits you to monitor any unauthorized use from a dynamic dashboard so you can report unauthorized activity faster for improved cargo security. 

Because of exceptional tracking and reliability, customers increasingly look for carriers that track assets. Enhanced shipment visibility and security make shippers more confident in their shipping choices.

5 ways to track and protect your assets

You can enhance cargo security and track your assets by analyzing routes, creating software alerts and improving company culture. 

Analyze routes

Analyzing routes is the first step in any cargo security and asset-tracking protocol. After all, theft is more likely to occur in isolated public areas when cargo’s unsupervised. As the saying goes, cargo at rest is cargo at risk — even truck stops and rest stops are potentially risky.

Asset tracking software can help truckers avoid areas posing the greatest risk of theft. Companies can set policies to avoid these areas or identify secure parking areas for truckers to help safeguard cargo. Some carriers with regular routes go as far as mandating the use of specific, high-security rest stops for their drivers.

Promote security consciousness

Promoting a security-conscious culture within your company is the next step to increasing asset and cargo security. Ultimately, both are in the hands of drivers. Educating employees on potential risks and setting standard protocols to promote safety can prevent loss. 

Many companies require periodic cargo safety training, and reward drivers demonstrating appropriate risk-mitigating behaviors. Drivers are taught, for instance, not to disclose details about their routes or cargo that could unintentionally benefit would-be thieves.

In addition, conducting security audits and working with law enforcement to understand the risks of theft can improve security consciousness.

Use asset-tracking software

Fleet visibility improves security, which is why asset-tracking software with GPS has become the industry standard. 

Asset-tracking software also provides valuable insights into fleet movements and patterns, enabling companies to optimize routes and spot inconsistencies. 

Implement technology

Fleets should be safer than ever before. Dashcams, GPS, transportation management systems and electronic logging devices each provide security-enhancing insights into asset movements and drivers’ behavior. Technology enables fleet managers to be on the road with each team member from a central location. 

Some dashcams, for instance, offer motion activation and voice connection features. This means you can speak to — and scare off — potential thieves while simultaneously notifying authorities. Transportation management systems can also spot abnormalities in shipping patterns more quickly, alerting you to potential threats while or before they unfold. 

Implement security cameras

In addition to dashcams, warehouse security cameras are essential monitoring tools. They help protect assets and cargo waiting to be distributed.

Most security cameras include continuous recording, time stamp and playback capabilities. Many also offer voice connection, pan and zoom, alarm and audio recording options. Some now use artificial intelligence to detect footage of human movements for improved cargo monitoring and asset protection. 

Enhancing the security on your valuable assets

Security is a major concern for companies of all sizes, but by implementing systems and procedures, risks are easily reduced. Careful route planning, warehouse security cameras, dashcams and asset-tracking software each can help, but only with human buy-in. 

While technology alone can’t replace vigilance and driver education, it can multiply the effect of smart company processes and policies. Combined, these protocols help safeguard customer cargo and corporate assets while promoting driver safety and business growth.    


How much does cargo theft cost?

While estimates vary, the FBI estimates that cargo theft costs U.S. shippers and trucking companies at least $30 billion per year, and that number could be increasing. Proactively protecting your assets can help prevent cargo theft.

Where is cargo theft most common?

Cargo theft is most common in the Los Angeles area. The port of Los Angeles is the busiest port in the U.S., with increased consumer demand fueling continued growth. Vehicles and auto parts are among thieves’ favorite targets, but they’ll take anything they can get their hands on.

Is cargo covered by insurance?

Cargo is covered by cargo insurance, but be sure to read your contract’s fine print for specific terms. Policies may or may not cover land, air and sea incidents, including cargo abandonment, customs rejections, theft, natural disasters, vehicle accidents and piracy. 

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