Security for businesses

How to prevent cargo truck theft with video surveillance

Calipsa 10 May 2021
  • Security for businesses

Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic created a ripple effect of issues in the global supply chain, shining a light on the vital work of the transportation and logistics industries. Simply put, freight is crucial to the economy - but it is also vulnerable to crime. We look at how the pandemic could expose freight vehicles to increased theft, and how video surveillance can reduce it. 

Has Covid affected freight security?

One study estimates that the economic impact of the pandemic on the global freight industry is a decrease of 6.1%. Despite the restrictions and constraints the logistics industry has contended with, the demand for certain goods appears to be on the rise. 

For example, medical goods have rocketed in demand during this time; the personal protective equipment (PPE) market was valued at $52.7 billion in 2019 and is now expected to reach $92.5 billion by 2025. 

With social distancing and lockdown restrictions in place, many countries also saw a boom in e-commerce purchases. A UN study reported that online sales rose in several countries: 59% in Australia, 46.7% in Britain, 32.4% in the United States and 14.6% in China.

To hold on throughout the ups and downs of the last year, the transportation and logistics sector was forced to adapt quickly and effectively. With e-commerce on the rise, it’s more important now than ever for logistics businesses to address the security of their goods.

Many freight companies now have to contend with the competing demands of increased shipping, and health and safety. Truck drivers are now regularly tested for coronavirus at port checkpoints, and greater restrictions and regulations around safe travel make for longer journeys whilst vehicles are full of valuable cargo. This provides thieves with many more opportunities.  

How often are freight trucks subject to cargo theft?

According to BSI & TT Club’s Cargo Theft Report, the top global sectors affected by cargo theft were: food and beverage, consumer products, electronics, alcohol and tobacco, and fuel. Sensitech’s annual report noted last year that products already in shortage were being targeted, such as protective equipment and other medical necessities. 

BSI & TT’s report found that the overwhelming majority (71%) of cargo theft took place on trucks, and a quarter (25%) happened in facilities. Sensitech reported that last year also saw a 5-year high of cargo theft in the US, rising 23% from the previous year. 

To get an idea of how costly cargo theft can be, in the US the value of goods stolen in 2019 was $139,677,562, according to the annual FBI report. The Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that cargo theft takes $5 billion a year out of their economy. 

Thieves use a variety of methods to steal cargo. In a straightforward theft, they simply seize an opportunity to take cargo that is easily available. However, in recent years businesses have fallen prey to more complex crimes involving social engineering, where thieves will set up situations in order to trick drivers into coming to them - such as impersonating a carrier.

As criminals’ methods become increasingly sophisticated, so too should freight companies’ security measures. 

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How to improve the security of your cargo trucks

The majority of crimes take place on the truck, so it’s crucial to ensure the well-being of the drivers and the cargo by taking greater security measures. A significant part of this involves employee training and improvements to existing security.

Simple steps include: using high-security locks  (such as king pin or landing gear locks) on cargo doors, and staying in frequent contact with dispatch teams so that they are aware of any stops, especially in high-risk areas.

Another of the key ways to prevent crimes and gather intelligence is by installing security cameras. As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to disrupt the global supply chain and online shopping creates spikes in shipping.

This often results in supplies becoming bottlenecked at ports or other facilities, requiring longer transit processes and offering thieves more opportunity. This underscores the importance of securing as many sites as possible, and gathering evidence, with video surveillance cameras. 

Why video surveillance can help prevent cargo theft from trucks

It’s long known that video cameras on their own can act as deterrents for crime. Mike McCarron writes in a recent blog for that when the company he was working at installed cameras in their warehouse and yard, crime came to a halt almost instantly.

Installing video surveillance cameras can help catch criminals in the act. It also gives businesses valuable intelligence about crime hot spots on their sites, enabling them to better secure those areas to prevent future crimes from taking place. 

If businesses do have video footage they can work with, then adding video analytics can level up their crime prevention plans by turning it into actionable intelligence. For example, Calipsa’s human and vehicle detection features can alert site managers when, for example, an unfamiliar car approaches or people are in a warehouse after hours. 

By adding Calipsa’s false alarm filtering platform to a video monitoring system, false alarms triggered by security cameras can be reduced by over 90%. With fewer alarms coming in, security personnel can focus their attention on taking proactive measures to address real alarms.

Transportation and trucking industries know the costly nature of cargo theft, and video surveillance systems are great ways to implement measures that are both preventative and proactive. Integrating an analytics tool like Calipsa with those security systems will further allow business to take charge and ensure the safety of their goods. 

Want to find out more about how you can take your cargo firm’s security strategy to the next level? Find out more here.