With Black Friday on the horizon, consumer goods of all kinds are making their way from manufacturers to distribution centers and retail locations across the country. As shoppers count down the days until they can score deals on the hottest products, cargo thieves are counting on cashing in on opportunities to swipe unattended trailers and shipments.
The industry experiences more cargo theft incidents when there is a higher volume of consumer goods moving through the supply chain. Holiday weekends and the weeks leading up to the Black Friday retail shopping holiday are prime times for organized crime groups to target the trucks, warehouses, and distribution centers that send or receive those goods.
But while we are in the midst of a season notorious for a spike in cargo thefts, there are a few precautions you can take to protect your freight.
Remember that freight at rest is freight at risk. The more time freight spends sitting unattended, the likelier the chances are for truckload theft. Try to keep the amount freight that’s shipped out over weekends to a minimum, or work with your carriers to avoid prolonged stretches in drop yards. Be especially mindful in traditionally active cargo theft areas like Southern California, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Miami, and Atlanta.
Identify vulnerabilities and don’t let your guard down. Dig into operational controls to understand which protective measures are in place at every point in the supply chain. Additionally, know that all “secure” drop yards are not created equal, so it’s important to verify and validate whenever possible. Is the drop yard gated? Guarded? Well-lit? Is it a shared space? You can also do a quick Google Earth search to see what those yards look like and to help determine if they meet your expectations and standards.
Leverage relationships with your third-party logistics provider (3PL). Your representative should be engaging in proactive measures to keep your freight safe. Your rep can validate carriers; help them understand best practices to keep freight safe; and provide insight around your expectations, lanes, and supply chain.
Christopher McLoughlin is a risk manager at C.H. Robinson. He is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing strategic programs focused on risk prevention attributable to various cargo and has over 18 years of logistics industry experience.
Editor’s note: As one of the United States’ biggest single shopping days of the year nears—and the unofficial start of the U.S. consumer holiday shopping season begins—we’ll be highlighting several areas of logistics that are integral in making Black Friday possible. The next in the series will appear on Friday, November 18.