Many shippers don’t take theft risk seriously until an ultra-high value load disappears. With constrained supply, increased demand and unprecedented shipping bottlenecks, supply chain risks have escalated. Now more than ever, shippers and their transportation partners must be hyper-vigilant about preventing cargo theft.

And, while cargo theft has always been a high risk, post-pandemic incidents have increased by over 23%. Cargo thieves are tuned into the opportunities created by the supply chain chaos. And while proactive tactics like route planning and monitoring are essential – the first and last line of defense is the people who are in charge of safeguarding the cargo. Transportation providers cannot simply rely on state-of-the-art equipment and technology, they must ensure that their people are informed, engaged, trained and supported.

Below is a list of best practices that every shipper – especially those shipping high-value assets – should instill into the people that develop, follow and use processes and technology.


Documented, Trackable and Traceable Lines of Communication

  • Establish processes for keeping all parties informed of relevant information gleaned through resources like CargoNet for continuous route and risk management
  • Institute a cadence of communications with drivers and escorts – including check-ins for every time the driver(s) stop or leave the vehicle
  • Ensure that all communications systems have back-up, recovery and redundancy plans in place
  • Create and enforce reporting guidelines around suspicious vehicles and activity,  and provide all personnel with a list of key contacts – including law enforcement professionals
  • Install sensors to detect seal tampering and door breaches and follow documented processes for response
  • Provide documented procedures, protocols and contact information in the event of a theft

Guidelines for Shippers

When it comes to mission- and business-critical cargo, there are certain practices that are essential – including the utilization of driver teams for long haul trips of 250 miles or more.  What’s more, every person involved in the shipment transaction must follow security procedures mandated by their carriers to avoid cargo thieves posing as drivers picking up their scheduled load. For example:

  • Logistics partners are responsible for providing  shippers with the following documents prior to pick up:
    • Copy of tractor/trailer registrations
    • Copy of drivers’ licenses
    • Pictures of the tractor/trailer with drivers next to the truck and the company logo visible to help ensure they’re loading the right trucks and working with the right drivers
  • To avoid fictitious pick-ups, shippers are instructed to review these documents to identify discrepancies in driver identification, documentation, and to identify that the vehicle actually belongs to the contracted carrier
  • If there are discrepancies, it is recommended to follow processes for reporting the incident to your contracted carrier who will, in turn, report the suspicious activity to CargoNet.

Guidelines For Drivers While In Transit

It is absolutely imperative that drivers hauling mission-critical cargo are vetted and pre-qualified. It is equally, if not more important, that drivers are continuously trained and updated on current best practices for emerging threat alerts.


Drivers should adhere to the following procedures and protocols:

  • Drivers should be fully fueled and fed prior to pick up
  • Conduct a pre-trip prior to departure from the shipper
  • Do not stop for 250 miles from the time of loading
  • One of the team drivers must always stay with the vehicle
  • During every stop, a walk-around must be conducted to visually inspect tires, air line and seals, and to identify any other signs of security breaches
  • Remain vigilant of surroundings at all times and report any suspicious activities to Dispatch
  • Do not discuss specifics about shipments on CB radio, at truck stops or in other public places
  • Keep the doors locked and windows rolled up, especially in urban areas
  • If an emergency situation forces an unplanned stop, the vehicle should be parked with the rear doors against a fixed object in a well-lit area


As the constrained supply chain is working through pandemic-related disruption, shippers must increasingly rely on their transportation partners to follow best practices in cargo security. Ask your provider about their risk management protocols around processes, technology and PEOPLE – especially as it relates to ultra-high value shipments such as lifesaving pharmaceuticals and highly targeted cargo.