The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has dramatically altered the American economy. Economic hardships imposed by stay-at-home orders, job losses, and business lockdowns have driven people to take desperate measures. The commercial trucking industry – the lifeblood of the American economy – has seen its share of risk exposures, including an increase in cargo and vehicle thefts due to COVID-19. Trucking company managers must gain an understanding of the factors leading to this increase in trucking theft in order to supplement the protections of semi truck fleet insurance.
Staggering Increases in Cargo Thefts
CargoNet, an industry leader in cargo theft prevention and resources, addressed the skyrocketing theft problem facing the American trucking industry in its Cargo Theft and Transportation Summit in November 2020. Comparing theft figures from April 2019 to April 2020, CargoNet reported a 107% increase in incidents. As of September 30th of this year, there have been nearly 1100 reported thefts in the United States and Canada. Average value per theft has almost doubled in 2020, rising from approximately $150,000 in 2019 to over $230,000 in 2020.
In addition to cargo thefts, there has been a significant increase in trailer and tractor thefts as well. Trailer thefts saw a 49% increase as compared to 2019 figures, and tractors disappeared at a rate 18% higher than 2019. Transportation companies have had to lean on their semi truck fleet insurance to recover losses resulting from the sharp increase in thefts.
Industry analysts note that thefts have decreased slightly since their highs in April but are expecting another surge during the holiday season. Weekends appear to be a popular time window for cargo thieves, as incidents are often not reported for several days and transportation vehicles are left unattended. Transportation security professionals note that household goods and food/beverage loads were the most common items targeted by thieves; consumer shortages due to COVID-19 are attributed as the reason these commodities are being stolen from commercial fleet vehicles.
Defending Against Cargo Thefts
The commercial trucking industry has utilized numerous anti-theft features in recent years. Perhaps the most common are GPS receivers installed on tractors and trailers. To speed recovery of stolen cargo and to pinpoint criminal activity, transportation security professionals are recommending that GPS receivers are embedded in cargo loads themselves.
Security at overnight truck stops must also be addressed. Thieves prefer targeting vehicles parked overnight, allowing them to attack multiple vehicles at once. Company managers should advise their drivers to only park at overnight locations where there are security personnel onsite. Truckers parking along tollways or highways instead of at truck stops are particularly susceptible to criminal activity. In 2020 alone, eight reported cases of violent thefts along the Illinois Tollway have occurred, leading to the loss of cargo and entire trailers.
Being aware of suspicious activity in daytime parking areas and unloading zones can also reduce the occurrence of thefts; thieves have targeted drivers waiting to unload their cargo. In some cases, “inside jobs” have been responsible for the uptick in thefts, with cargo being stolen from loading docks by workers facing economic uncertainty related to COVID-19. Again, vigilance and security practices can help reduce the burden on semi truck fleet insurance. Trucking companies must ensure adequate lighting at loading/parking areas and security patrols to help thwart cargo thefts. Frequent security patrols on weekends, when vehicles are typically left unattended, can further mitigate criminal activity. Semi truck fleet insurance serves as the backbone of any transportation risk management plan. With an eye toward increased protection for truck drivers and their cargo, the industry will once again experience a reduction in thefts.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.