The U.S. supply chain is overwhelmed and it’s expected to remain so for some time. With so many shipments tied up in ports and too few workers to watch them, cargo theft has become a significant problem. Yet theft from ports of entry isn’t the only way goods disappear. Criminals routinely target truck shipments as well.
Cargo theft costs companies somewhere between $15 billion and $35 billion annually, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. To help prevent theft from hurting your company’s bottom line, protect your goods at every stage of their journey to customers.
Contain cargo crime
The fight against cargo theft starts when loading container ships. Make sure employees who handle your goods have passed criminal background checks. In addition to using secure locks, consider installing GPS tracking so you’ll know where your containers are at all times.
Also, seek out ports with lower crime rates. Cargo security company CargoNet says that ports in California, Texas and Florida generally experience more thefts. So you may want to look into shipping to ports in other coastal states.
Put the brakes on highway robbery
Scrutinize trucking services before hiring them to transport your goods. For example, learn how a company trains its drivers and selects routes to avoid cargo theft hotspots. Other questions to ask include:
- Do you conduct initial and ongoing driver background checks?
- Are drivers required to use approved rest stops?
- How do you maintain your vehicles to prevent breakdowns?
- Do you agree to use security seals?
- Are trucks GPS-tracked?
If your company relies on a third-party logistics firm to handle your shipments, ask them to share how they select and oversee the performance of trucking companies.
Focus on physical security
When the supply chain logjam eventually eases, businesses may have a new problem: Preventing theft from overstocked warehouses and distribution centers. To keep workers and outsiders from stealing inventory, make sure you have a robust chain of custody in place. This includes an inventory system to capture the receipt of every item as soon as it arrives and until it leaves the facility. If you don’t already have one, invest in an inventory tracking system such as radio-frequency identification.
Also, limit access to inventory to those with a business need and deploy cameras to monitor facilities 24/7. Surprise inventory counts, which involve an unannounced accounting of the inventory on hand, can send a strong message to dishonest employees considering theft.
Cargo and inventory theft could potentially hobble your business. Although it’s impossible to prevent every loss, adopting a proactive stance can make it harder for criminals to enrich themselves at your expense.