In recent years, the transport and logistics industry has faced many disruptions in the supply chain. However, none now is so pressing as cargo theft. Continuing globalisation has meant an increase in the amount of freight shipped across international boundaries, but likewise financial inflation and general shortages signalled a growing degree of trailer robberies. There are various methods available for thieves to carry out such criminal behaviour, although it’s clear that there is no distinction between who will be targeted - all goods are fair game for opportunists.

Evidently, the possibility of cargo theft happening is a burdensome concern for fleet managers worldwide. After all, security breaches equate to a presence of danger for drivers, as well as substantial monetary losses for businesses. Fleet managers go to extensive lengths to reduce fleet costs, and instances of cargo theft fundamentally work to undermine the involved efforts.

Fortunately, owing to leading industry advancements, there are now more ways than ever to ensure the security of your fleet and the cargo it’s transporting. In this guide, we’ll be going over some definitive preventative measures which fleet managers can take in order to decrease the risk - and impact - of cargo theft.

Cargo Theft Statistics

When talking of cargo theft, there is no better context than what the statistics show. Followingly, it’s important to be aware of the fact that in December of last year (2022), the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) recorded an average of nearly 20 cargo theft incidents per day across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (source). For reference, this totalled to losses of more than €17 million in a single month.

From this perspective, the collective influence of freight crime can easily be seen. Namely, staggering financial losses. Of course, the impact on the supply chain is rather detrimental, and what’s more, the majority of the goods stolen were unspecified. This comes with the worrying implication that no vehicle fleet is safe from theft, whether they’re carrying food, fuel, electronics, or otherwise. Moreover, cargo is most vulnerable when it’s being transported via public roads, given the amount of unsecured parking locations and the distance between each destination point. 

This opens up the potential for theft both when a vehicle is stationary, in addition to when it is moving. Indeed, forms of cargo theft involve direct stealing, self-smuggling stowaways, and strategic cybercrime. So, the natural question is: how can fleet managers combat cargo theft?

Cargo Risk Management

Cargo theft statistics paint an admittedly bleak picture for fleet managers, perhaps making it seem inevitable that criminals will target their fleet at some point. Despite this, a standout characteristic of the transport industry is that it is very good at constantly adapting and evolving. As such, in the area of cargo risk management, there are many modern solutions to cargo theft including:

  • Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is a way for fleet managers to accurately monitor and record the location, status, maintenance history and schedule, value, and ownership of the physical items being carried by a fleet. Asset tracking is achieved through the use of technology like RFID, barcodes, and GPS. The latter of which, affords fleet managers with real-time visibility over the cargo housed by their fleet, with sensors detecting if something goes wrong. Such visibility over assets is essential because it results in quick and reliable responses in cases of cargo theft.

  • Route Planning

Route planning is ubiquitous in fleet management, but particularly important as a preventative measure against cargo theft. Route planning in this context refers to defining routes for fleet jobs which are known to be secure, i.e., routes where there is little chance of theft occurring. The prerequisite for secure route planning is intelligence. For example, it’s beneficial for fleet managers to know that cargo theft increases during holidays, weekends, and while drivers are stationary. Further, there are organisations that can provide detailed accounts and reports related to relevant criminal activity. Incorporating such information into fleet routes directly reduces the likelihood of cargo theft.

  • Driver Training

The drivers that comprise a fleet of vehicles are the ones who experience cargo theft first-hand. Consequently, it’s only right that they should be fully prepared and trained for such incidents. Driver training encapsulates programmes designed to instruct fleet drivers on preliminaries for secure cargo pickups, deliveries, driving behaviour, stopovers, on-road control zones, and actions to take in the event of both suspected and actual cargo theft incidents. Guidance like this is integral to security risk assessments and prospective decision-making, and so vital to driver safety within the fleet management sector.

Cargo Theft Prevention from MICHELIN Connected Fleet

Cargo theft is primarily successful when it is unexpected and unanticipated. Yet, fleet managers may be inclined to believe that they are exempt from it. Although it is easier to not be cautious, cargo theft’s prevalence is unmistakable. And so, it’s a responsibility for fleet managers to be adequately prepared when crime is directed towards their vehicles.

We at MICHELIN Connected Fleet understand the severity of cargo theft, and have therefore implemented preventative measures within our fleet management solutions. Our asset tracking technology allows fleet managers to rest assured regarding the safety of the cargo their vehicles are transporting, all while facilitating the optimisation of overall operations. 

If you’re interested in a solution principally intended to improve the security of both your fleet and its drivers, then be sure to make an enquiry into what our services can do for you today. For more reading material, feel free to browse our resources centre.