Cargo Theft and Tips on Preventing It

two semi trucks moving down two lane highway with sunset in background

Truck drivers have various things to worry about when they’re on the road, such as not getting enough sleep, having a hard time eating the right foods, or running into traffic on the highway. But one worry has been becoming a bigger and bigger problem — theft. Whether cargo is being carried across the country or just across town, the contents are often incredibly valuable, sometimes ranging from thousands to even millions of dollars.

How Are Trucking Thieves Stealing Cargo? And How Can You Prevent It?

Straight Theft

When a truck is left unattended, it is one of the easiest, fastest, and most common ways for thieves to steal cargo. This type of theft typically occurs in parking lots, at truck stops, roadside parking, store lots, or drop lots. A common target for thieves are trucks that carry refrigerated goods, such as medicine or pharmacy supplies.

Cargo Theft Statistics

According to a 2017 report by TAPA (Transportation Asset Protection Association), the most common product types stolen were home and garden (17 percent), food and drinks (16 percent), electronics (15 percent), building and industrial (12 percent), and miscellaneous (10 percent). The states that saw the most theft were California, Texas, and New Jersey.

There are several ways to prevent straight theft, and it starts with having several policies and procedures in place.

  • Drivers should never leave their rigs unattended, or whenever possible. This is especially important in high theft areas such as truck stops.

  • Security on the truck needs to be top-notch, including rear door locks and air cuff locks.

  • Install landing gear locks if it is not possible to leave the truck unattended.

Male truck driver inside truck holding cb radio speaker with sun in background

Strategic Theft

This method of theft is becoming more and more common as technology improves, making it easier for thieves to trick shippers, brokers, or carriers. Thieves are often using fraud, identity theft, fictitious pick-ups, double brokering scams, fraudulent carriers, or even a combination of these tactics in order to scam businesses. Strategic theft often occurs at the very end of the week, when businesses are up against deadlines. The thieves will rely on employees not having the time to thorough check shipping documents. In order to steal a company’s identity, thieves may advertise false leads in order to gather the information they need.

  • To prevent strategic theft, businesses must thoroughly research the company. The most widely used resource for this is the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

  • Shippers and carriers need to work together in order to confirm the identity of each person involved in the transaction. This also includes obtaining the driver’s information, truck and trailer ID numbers, and secure pick-up numbers.

  • At Financial Carrier Services, we offer unlimited free credit checks, that while it can’t prevent theft, can provide peace of mind knowing that a company is legitimate. Another way our freight factoring services are a step above the rest.


While technology is being used to prevent theft, thieves are also developing their own technology. One of the biggest methods of preventing theft is through GPS technology, or a device that is installed within a trailer that is capable of tracking the truck’s location. However, counter technology called “sniffers” are being used to detect GPS devices. When a device is detected on a truck, the thieves will then use a GPS jammer to block the transmission to law enforcement.

  • Again, trucks should never be left unattended to keep thieves at bay.


If thieves are able to access a company’s data, they can see their schedule and routes. This is commonly done through phishing emails and malware. With access to sensitive data, such as pick up and delivery schedules and details of a trucks contents, this paperwork can be printed out and used to steal cargo. Thieves are able to pick and choose when, where, and which trucks cargo they want to steal.

  • Never open suspicious emails that appear to be from someone in the company. Phishing emails often ask for personal information, such as bank accounts or social security numbers.

  • Check identifications of drivers and company contact information.


More and more data is being reported, but pilferage can often be hard to track. When only some of the contents are taken, and often products are taken out of their packages so it doesn’t appear like anything has been stolen, drivers aren’t aware of any theft until they reach the final destination. And when the authorities are called, they often don’t file a report without having detailed information on when or where the theft took place.

  • Drivers should frequently inspect the truck for tampering.

  • The truck should be equipped with security devices, including locks and seals.


At Financial Carrier Services, our top priority is protecting a trucking company’s bottom line, whether that’s by offering reliable factoring services or through education on common theft techniques. We strive to be more than just a factoring company, ready to provide service that goes above and beyond.

Get in touch with our factoring experts for professional and thorough service.

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