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The California Highway Patrol

CTIP - How to Report a Cargo Theft

Cargo theft is defined as any merchandise which is in transit when stolen, with specific concentration at seaports, airports, railroad and truck terminals without limitation on value or type of merchandise. This does not include suspected pilfering.

When you first discover that a theft has occurred, immediately report it as follows:

Notify the law enforcment agency with primary jurisdiction in the area the crime happened. Submit your information online Cargo Theft Loss Report or notify the local CHP office (which would have primary responsibility for handling the crime involved, i.e. theft of the vehicle, theft of the cargo) and provide as much information as possible about the vehicle and cargo stolen. Try to determine as much identifying information about the cargo such as serial numbers, any specific markings on boxes or other containers. In general, if the theft occurred within an incorporated city (other than on a freeway), the local police department will have primary jurisdiction. On a freeway, the local CHP office will have primary jurisdiction if a vehicle theft occurred. If just the cargo is stolen, the local police department will handle the case.

If the theft occurred in an unincorporated area, the local CHP office will have primary jurisdiction if the theft of a vehicle is involved, and the County Sheriffs Department will handle the case if just the cargo is stolen.

Once the local agency has been contacted, then complete a theft report fax sheet for the appropriate CHP CTIP task force.

Company Security Procedures

Require all personnel, including vendors, contractors, maintenance, and clerical personnel, who will have access to cargo areas to provide a detailed employment application which contains a photograph of the applicant and lists his/her residences and prior employment for the past 10 years, as well as references.

Screen all employment applications to verify address and prior employment.

Have applicants list all vehicles, including license numbers and descriptions, that they use for work.

Employ a random drug testing program, including "probable cause" testing.

Implement a "no stop" policy for drivers picking up containers for local delivery.

Prepare a driver handbook listing the rules so drivers can be held accountable. Make it a part of the hiring procedures so each driver knows that he/she will be terminated if they violate these company policies. For example, stopping en route and parking loads in unsecured areas should be covered. The nature of each company's operation would dictate the applicable policies.

Make sure each of your drivers has a 24-hour phone number for management personnel that he/she can call in the event of an emergency.

Use padlocks on all pick up and delivery units and require drivers to lock all doors when away from unit.

Physical Security

Either provide your own guards or hire a reputable guard service. Question them as to their hiring practices. Insist that the guard service conduct the same background checks on their guards as you do on your drivers.

Spot check the guards on an irregular basis to make sure they're on the job doing what you want done.

Place the guard in an inaccessible area where he/she can monitor activities on the facility and yet be secure and safe from assault. Make sure they have good communications and know who to notify in the event of a problem.

Do a physical security audit of your facility. Are you utilizing lighting, fencing, and CCTV to the best advantage possible? Personnel access should be restricted to those areas of concern to them. Truck drivers don't need to be in the warehouse, and warehousemen don't need to be in areas out of their job description.

Limit yard access after normal business hours.

Set up specific procedures concerning type of documentation required before driver is allowed to leave yard. Hold guard accountable for obtaining this documentation.

Conduct random lunch box inspections.

Operational Practice

Establish operational guidelines that will reduce the chances of you being victimized. For example, if possible, do not leave containers or loaded trailers in your lot overnight.

Do not accept late deliveries that you will not be able to off-load that day.

Do frequent yard checks at different hours.

Make sure you have complete records of all the equipment that is in your yard overnight, especially license plate numbers, container, and trailer numbers.

Make your facility a tough target. Take advantage of every trick you can think of to make the thieves' job more difficult.

Consider installing fuel cut-off valves, tracking devices, and other security devices on your equipment. Heavy duty padlocks should be mandatory on trailer/container doors.

Install high quality pin locks on trailers or containers that must be left in your yard overnight.

Limit the number of employees who have access to shipping information.

Get to know the police officers that work your area. Make it a point to acquaint them with your operational procedures.

Set up a reporting procedure including a substantial reward plan, so company drivers and other employees can and will provide the company with information on possible criminal activity.

Install time lapse surveillance cameras in your yard and locate them in such a way that they clearly identify a driver and tractor/trailer leaving the yard.

Paint tractor or trailer numbers on roofs so they are visible from the air.

Security Measures For Truck Drivers

Maintain regular communications with your dispatcher.

If equipped with radio, let dispatcher know of anything suspicious or odd.

Whenever possible, vary your route.

If rest stops are necessary, park in areas where other truckers are present. Hijackers don't like crowds.

Do not stop on dark freeways or in deserted areas while waiting to make deliveries.

Make it a point to stop only at reputable truck stops along your route. Also, don't stop at the same location each time.

If possible, drive in tandem to avoid being hijacked.

Whenever possible, go directly to your delivery point without making any stops. Don't take your load home or park in an unsecured area.

Be aware of vehicles that are following your truck and of strangers asking questions as to what you're carrying.

Be suspicious of individuals asking you to stop as a result of an alleged traffic accident. If unsure whether accident occurred, drive rig to police station or to a well lit, busy location before stopping. Hijackers frequently use this ruse to get drivers to stop.

Always lock your tractor doors and make sure all trailer and container doors are secured with a heavy duty padlock. Keep your tractor windows rolled up until you are on the open road or freeway.

Be especially watchful immediately after picking up your load. The majority of armed hijackings occur within a few miles of the pickup point. Freeway on- and off-ramps are particularly dangerous.

If you are hijacked or you find that your load has been stolen, immediately notify the local police agency (dial 911) and then your 24-hour dispatcher.

If you are hijacked, always and immediately do as instructed by the hijackers, but listen to what is being said and the sounds around you. It may provide law enforcement with valuable information as to where the thieves have taken your vehicle and load.

Try to provide description of suspect(s) and of vehicle(s) used by the suspects. You are law enforcement's best witness.

Carry information on your person concerning the identification of the tractor and trailer(s) or chassis and containers you are pulling (license numbers, container numbers, descriptions). Law enforcement can't report it as stolen without this information.

Don't talk about your load on the C.B. radio - cargo thieves listen too.

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