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How to prevent cargo theft using your warehouse security system

Calipsa 17 June 2021
  • Featured Post
  • Physical security
  • Security for businesses

Warehouses are a crucial part of the transport and logistics industry - as storage points in the supply chain, they are places where goods are safely stored until their next journey. However, many warehouses around the world are not the safest places to store valuable cargo. In fact, according to the 2020 BSI & TT Club Cargo Theft Report, some warehouses are the opposite: prime targets for thieves looking to make an easy profit.

Which countries had the highest cargo theft statistics in 2020?

In terms of overall global cargo theft, thefts from warehouses made up 14%. Other targets, such as theft from trucks, were larger. If you want to find out more about cargo truck theft, check out our article. 

However, when we focus on specific geographical regions, the picture changes; some countries suffered worse than others with thefts from warehouses. China had the biggest proportion of warehouse thefts; nearly half (49%) of all cargo thefts were specifically warehouse-based thefts from a facility. India also reported high volumes of warehouse thefts, and had the highest proportion of cargo theft overall in Asia at 64%.

In other continents, warehouse theft rates were low, typically following the global average of around 14% or less. This is often the case despite the relative size of the warehousing industry in that country. For example, in the US, the number of warehouses has grown by 27% over the past decade, from 15,152 in 2010 to 19,190 in 2020. Analysts suggest that the reason for this increase is due to improvements in the manufacturing sector coupled with the ongoing growth of e-commerce. 

Despite this proliferation of warehouses, the BSI & TT Club Report shows that only 14% of cargo theft in the US was from warehouses - the same as the global average. So why are some countries so prone to warehouse theft, while other countries with a booming warehouse industry are relatively unaffected? Below, we’ll look at why thefts from warehouses take place, and what you can do to ensure your warehouse is as secure as possible.

Why warehouse thefts happen

By analysing all the inventory theft incidents recorded in China, the BSI-TT Club report found that a high rate of these crimes were committed by both current and former employees. It became clear from the data that warehouses in China had access control security gaps that were easy to exploit. 

A common reason that many warehouses in China and India suffered from cargo theft was poor access control protocols, especially the failure to revoke keys from former employees. Simply implementing an access control procedure would quickly prevent many cases of inventory theft by making it much harder for former employees to exploit this gap in a warehouse security system. 

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Warehouse security tips to improve inventory control

Your warehouse security system is your first line of defence against thieves. Warehouses cover large areas, which makes the building itself and the perimeter a challenge to secure thoroughly. Here are some tips to help you improve the security of your warehouse in different ways:


Often warehouses are not evenly, brightly lit spaces. Dark areas make it easier for criminals to go unnoticed, whether this is by employees or on your security cameras. Simply adding extra lighting will make it much easier to identify anything suspicious. This also applies to external areas, including your perimeter fences, entrances, exits and parking areas. By illuminating your parking area, you are also reducing the risk of theft from vehicles. 

Building maintenance

Make sure your warehouse structure is resistant to break-ins. As part of general building safety, it’s important to get your warehouse periodically inspected. If there are any weaknesses these could make it easy for criminals to break in, so you should act quickly to strengthen or repair these areas. 


Windows are a weak point in any building; they are an easy entry point for thieves. If your warehouse has windows, particularly at ground level, ensure they are shatter-resistant. There are also security systems available specifically for broken windows. If a microphone picks up the sound of smashed glass, it can trigger an alert to either warn thieves that their presence is known, or to send in security guards or law enforcement. 

Access control protocol

Don’t make it easy for thieves to get in - make sure you have systems in place for entry and exit to the building. It is crucial that anyone who is leaving your company hands back their key, so that you have much better oversight of who can access the warehouse. 

Educate your employees about secure access control procedures, security risks such as tailgating, and the consequences of inventory theft if they are caught. Gate and door codes should be changed periodically. You should also make sure that all entrances and exits are well-lit and well-monitored with security cameras.

Video surveillance

Security cameras are a great way to monitor large areas. By setting them up in the most vulnerable areas, it is possible to keep an eye on anything suspicious. Combined with good lighting, cameras give you much clearer visibility of what is taking place. The presence of cameras can also be a deterrent to employees who might be tempted to commit inventory theft.

Why to add intelligent video analytics to your warehouse security camera system

If you do use video surveillance, you might encounter some challenges when trying to monitor such a vast area. As well as trying to keep track of all the goings-on on site, there is also the issue of false alarms, which can become overwhelming if your cameras have particularly sensitive motion detection. Trees, animals, even plastic bags can all trigger alarms on security cameras. 

Live monitoring is a huge drain on time and resources for security staff; by moving to event-based monitoring, you can make your security system much more efficient. Event-based monitoring uses solutions like intelligent video analytics to filter out false alarms, only alerting you when there is an event that genuinely requires verification and action. For example, Calipsa’s intelligent video analytics can identify people and vehicles and alert you if any are spotted on camera: if the person or vehicle in the alert looks suspicious, you can take action. 

It is also possible to adapt intelligent analytics around your system - for example, you can set it up in your weakest spots, only on the external areas of your site, or only cameras at entrances and exits. You can also set it to monitor on certain schedules - say, only during hours when no employees are on site. 

By adding intelligent technology to your warehouse security system, you can make it work for your requirements - helping to keep your inventory safe, giving you and your clients greater peace of mind.

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