Lorry theft and cargo crime have long been a concern for fleet operators and drivers. In 2022, there were over 5,000 cargo crime reports in the UK and over 100,000 vehicle thefts in the previous year. Losing vehicles or valuable cargo harms fleet revenue and company reputation. In addition, insurance deductibles and replacement costs can be a huge financial burden for businesses. Preventing vehicle theft is imperative for fleets, drivers, and truck stop locations.

What are the most common types of freight crime?

Thieves have become incredibly clever at freight crime and use various tactics to steal cargo. Drivers should take measures to minimise cargo theft and look out for the following:

Straight cargo theft – This is where cargo is physically stolen. Thieves often target trucks parked overnight or left unattended. They often look for items to steal and sell quickly

Strategic cargo theft – Thieves use tricks to deceive shippers, brokers, and carriers – eventually stealing the load from the rightful carrier

Technology – With technological advancements, thieves now use sniffer devices to detect covert GPS technology. When a device is found, a GPS jammer blocks technology – preventing law enforcement from locating stolen goods

Cyber – Thieves use basic cyber-attacks to corrupt computer software. This can be done by sending phishing emails and installing Trojan Horse malware. Once systems are infected, thieves can access delivery information to commit fictitious pick-ups

Pilferage – Pilferage has long been an issue for fleets and drivers. If a driver stops frequently, they may not realise a theft has occurred until they arrive at their destination – making it difficult to report the incident to the police. Drivers should inspect their trucks after each stop to ensure they can report theft as soon as possible.

Trucks parked

What can truck stops do to prevent cargo theft?

Truck stops have a huge responsibility to ensure their sites are safe and secure for truckers. Comprehensive security measures will deter thieves. Our SNAP Access and Security team can help sites gain TAPA Level 3 accreditation. We blend tailored security products and market expertise to protect people, vehicles, and content on sites. We recommend the following is installed:

CCTV camera systems can target site entrances, access points, and valuable assets to deter criminal activity. Cameras detect potential criminals and their crimes before they happen, allowing security and police to intervene

Specialist camera systems like thermal imaging can detect intruders. The system can work at any time of the day and in any weather conditions via a heat signature

Fencing around the perimeter of a site can act as a deterrent

Barriers and ANPR systems are effective ways to control who accesses your site. ANPR technology reads licence plate numbers and is used as a primary security solution across the UK and Europe.

What can drivers do to prevent truck and cargo theft?

Drivers can take various measures to prevent truck theft. We recommend the following strategies:

Remove keys and lock doors when leaving the vehicle unattended even if it’s for a second

Drive with locked doors – this will deter thieves who may try and enter while the vehicle is stationary

Perform walkaround checks on your vehicle after each stop

If you are required to deliver to an unexpected address, always check with your traffic office

Plan your stops ahead of time. We recommend parking at Park Mark-approved sites. The intruck app makes it easy to plan your route and book stops in advance.

Staying alert while out on the road will reduce the chance of cargo & vehicle theft.

Truck driver with truck

How to improve vehicle safety

Improving your fleet’s vehicle security is an effective way to reduce theft risk. We recommend implementing the following:

  • Ensure your vehicles are fitted with the latest truck anti-theft devices
  • Implement processes and behaviours among drivers regarding vehicle safety
  • Providing employee uniforms will ensure only authorised drivers clumb into your cabs
  • PIN locks on vehicles
  • Vehicle tracking

It’s critical to remember that no security measure is foolproof, but preventive steps can greatly lower truck and cargo theft chances. Drivers, fleet managers, and truck stop owners must be proactive about vehicle and cargo safety.

How often does cargo theft occur?

Cargo theft occurs more often than you think. According to TAPA EMEA Intelligence System figures, in April 2023, 495 incidents were reported across the UK and Europe. Resulting in the second consecutive month where crimes have increased by 50% or more. Many of these crimes occurred in unclassified parking locations, reinforcing the need for more safe and secure sites across the UK and Europe. SNAP has introduced the Depot Parking scheme to alleviate the shortage.

Who is responsible for securing cargo?

Drivers have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the loads they carry. This responsibility applies even if they do not load the vehicle themselves. Employers must make sure drivers know why and how to secure loads, as well as how to use equipment. Drivers must ensure the following doesn’t occur:

  • Loads slipping sideways, backwards, or forwards
  • All straps, buckles, ropes, or chains are securely fastened
  • Overhanging loads

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