Fighting freight theft – this is how logisticians protect their cargo

Logisticians are a particularly attractive target for criminals of all kinds. They often move expensive assets and use a publicly accessible infrastructure. If they are attacked, it often causes high damage through theft or costly disruptions in the supply chain. Logistics service providers protect their freight with a whole range of measures.

Damages amounting to 2.2 billion euros

The numbers are frightening: Every 20 minutes there is a crime in Germany. Nearly 26,000 trucks are deprived of their cargo each year. Consumer goods, pharmaceutical products, auto parts, jewelry, and precious metals, as well as food and drink are coveted by the robbers, who often act in gangs. Everything that is valuable, easy to sell or easy to transport is popular. 2.2 billion euros was the economic damage caused by theft to consumers in 2016, according to an estimate of the “Working Group Theft Prevention in Freight and Logistics”, in which many business associations have joined forces. The goods alone would result in damage amounting to 1.3 billion euros.

Unsafe parking

The transport and logistics associations therefore want, above all, to enforce higher safety standards and better technology. Positioning technology, anti-theft alarm systems, immobilizers and secured parking spaces are supposed to better protect people and cargo.
Especially on unsecured parking lots trucks are at risk. In seven out of ten cases, it was there that the cargo was stolen from the truck, according to TAPA Transport Safety Association. This association has therefore introduced an initiative for secure parking.
The problem is that on the one hand, the number of guarded parking is currently still low. On the other hand, security is often a matter of cost: In the low-margin transport business, every penny counts.

Secure data exchange - Schenker Deutschland is a member of the IDS user network | logistik aktuell

Industry 4.0 requires data protection - IDS offers more security. DB Schenker is the first logistics company to test the potential of IDS.

Political initiatives

The authorities are also structurally protecting themselves. In the Action Plan for Freight Transport and Logistics, the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI) set up a working group on security, which is staffed by economic and police representatives.
The State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt became active with the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony as well as in international partnerships. Saxony-Anhalt founded the project group Cargo, which has been fighting cargo theft since the 1st of July 2018 cross-border. In the process, the group demands that in the future only one public prosecutor’s office be responsible for each country and that only the provincial criminal police investigate theft of freight.
Logisticians are already benefiting from this project today. “We have been working with this project group for a long time and are in constant and intensive exchange with the authorities,” says Eike Hillbricht, Head of Security at DB Schenker. “We learned a lot about the methods of thieves.” Often the criminals were highly professional and well-organized.

New and safer processes

But cargo is not only at risk during transport. Many logisticians have therefore changed their processes to make thefts more complicated. At DB Schenker, for example, video surveillance in the branches and systematic documentation ensure that the condition of the freight can be completely traced. When handling particularly valuable cargo special safety rules apply. Also, partially unloaded vehicles must not be left overnight on the driver’s unsecured private property. Instead, they must be kept in a specially secured area of the offices.

“Damage amounting to 2.2 billion euros due to freight theft. #Logistics, authorities and business associations are fighting back“

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Finally, some vehicle manufacturers and suppliers offer technical solutions to make theft more difficult. Swap bodies with reinforced walls or alarm protection make access to the cargo more difficult. Safety tarpaulins with wires alert when the tarpaulin is severed. Padlocks and special locks provide more security. Complex security systems such as CargoGuard’s include many different components designed to protect cargo.
The problem of security of cargo is omnipresent, says an insider. But the weakest link in the chain is always man.