Watch what you say and do
The less you say about what you’re hauling and where you’re going, the better. That includes “on the CB or in casual conversation at a truck stop,” French says. For years, Wade says, he always said he hauled used office furniture or toilet paper if anyone asked.
Be careful on websites like Facebook and Twitter, says Linda Caffee. Her advice is to make comments that might identify your location only after you’ve left those places. She also post-dates things she says on her blogs by a day or two.
Cargo theft experts say one tactic used by thieves is to tail trucks from a warehouse or drop yard. For any high-value load, a key Schneider procedure is to leave a terminal or truck stop with a full tank and be able to drive at least 200 miles before stopping, Fountain says. Linda Caffee advises taking a bathroom break and buying food for the cab before starting. Driver teams should make sure one of them is always visible in the cab.
Keeping an eye on other traffic is essential to avoiding theft. Wade says if you suspect someone is following you, slow down and let the vehicle pass you. Or take the next exit and see if the trailing vehicle does likewise. He also advises calling a trusted colleague who might be in the area or heading for a secure location.
“One time, as a last resort, I drove to a police station and parked outside,” he says. “Whoever was following me never showed up and I never went inside to bother the police.”
Whenever possible, avoid stops, such as for apparent breakdowns on the shoulder. Calling for help can be the more prudent response.
Drivers should carry with them a 3×5 card with truck and trailer license tag numbers, truck vehicle identification number and insurance information, recommends Doug Morris, director of safety and security operations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. In case of theft, that information is more important to law enforcement than the truck make, model and color, he says.
Because some thefts are not immediately noticed, it’s important to pay close attention to your equipment and load during your trip. Fountain estimates that if a theft is reported within two hours, the recovery rate is “better than 50-50.” If the report is four hours after the act, the recovery chances fall to 25 percent. After six hours, recovery is less than 5 percent.
French says trailer integrity verification checks should be done even if you have an empty trailer. McCorkle always puts a plastic security seal on his trailer doors, even when the trailer is empty. If he sees the seal’s been broken, he’ll look inside to see if something has been placed there.
Security equipment varies from a high-quality padlock or fifth wheel trailer locking mechanism costing around $20 (www.gladhandlock.com) to elaborate security systems costing $2,000 or more.