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Cargo theft is on the rise and it’s growing every year. While it’s impossible to calculate the exact cost of this crime on our nation’s economy, experts estimate it’s $15 to $30 billion a year. High-value shipments – electronics, medicines, designer clothes – are particularly at risk, but food and beverage theft is increasingly common. Any load can be in danger. The problem: organized crime and high-tech criminals using hacking, tracking, and listening devices.

In the past, thieves would target loads at truck stops, but now they’re starting further up the supply chain and stalking shipper facilities. Warehouses and distribution centers are increasingly the most common crime scenes. Thieves also track when trucks load and leave terminals and then follow them, looking for their break. “It used to be that once you were 200 miles down the road, you’d be past them,” one expert reports on Trucker.com. “Now they will use multiple teams of drivers to follow trucks farther.”

It’s a year-round problem, but it gets worse from June to January. It’s a nationwide crisis, but cargo theft is most common in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. It can happen anytime, but more cargo theft is reported from Friday through Sunday, with the most thefts taking place on Friday. And it’s not just the truck’s contents that is in danger: criminals are hijacking appealing new-model trucks.

Cargo theft techniques may have changed, but the safety tips remain the same:

  1. Be careful what you say. Don’t mention over CB or post in Facebook where you’re headed or what you’re hauling. Watch what you say at truck stops – you don’t know who could be listening. For instance, a waitress at a truck stop diner was caught asking drivers about their load and calling in its contents to a group of thieves.
  2. Look out for anything unusual. If you see someone snooping around a rig or you can tell you’re being followed, call 911 for the police to respond.
  3. Always lock all doors and check them twice. Even keep your windows rolled up in congested areas.
  4. Watch where you park. If you must leave your loaded trailer, park so that the rear doors are against a wall, a fence, anything to stop a thief from getting the doors open.

No question: trucking has become a more challenging job than ever as drivers must keep their eyes open in all situations. If staying loaded is one of your challenges, here’s a tip for a simple solution: Register on FreeFreightSearch.com, the world’s largest FREE load board. It just takes a moment to access thousands of available loads.

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