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Trucking Companies Offer Open Vehicle for Food Cargo Thieves

by Jana Ritter - Published: 1/15/2014

The transportation of food products already has the potential for a number of problems that can compromise food safety and now it’s being seen as a ripe opportunity for an increasing number of cargo thieves as well. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to propose new food safety rules for shipping this spring, they are advising food companies to pay more attention to transportation as well. 

Cargo thefts

Lance Reeve, a security expert with AIB International says that food and beverages are now the most common types of cargo stolen in transit, Reeve said. About 27 percent of cargo thefts involve food and beverages, compared to 14 percent for electronics, the next most frequently stolen type of cargo. Food is easy to resell and harder to track than other high-value goods, because it’s short shelf life thwarts the possibility of long-term investigations. “Organized crime is in the food industry now,” Reeve said during the recent Northwest Food Processors Association conference in Portland, Ore.

These criminals go about it in a number of ways and are becoming better and better at it. In some cases, the more sophisticated organized crime groups will pose as trucking companies, offer attractive prices for shipping and then drive off with the cargo. The street level thieves simply steal the entire truck, making not only food but transport vehicles a very high target across the US.

Companies should also be aware of internal signs such as employees who seem extremely interested in security measures, have bad financial histories or even those who exhibit signs of addiction. Trucking companies should also instill stricter policies to prevent hijacking, such as requiring their drivers to use established routes, park in designated truck stops or safe areas and never stop for stranded motorists, Reeve advised.

He also recommends food companies take more cautionary measures like checking the commercial driver’s licenses of truckers who are picking up loads, reference their names with the shipping firm and when receiving loads, companies should ensure trailers are sealed and match the seal number with the number on the bill of lading.

While such steps may seem tedious, they’ve greatly reduced product loss in the electronic and pharmaceutical industries, Reeve said. Simple measures that will save both food and trucking companies millions of dollars in the long run.