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Image of a criminal committing cargo theft. March 22, 2024 - BY EagleLogistics LLC

It can happen to any truck driver, at any time. Whether you realize right away or not, and whether it’s a few items or a whole truck load, falling victim to cargo theft can hurt. It hurts the company you’re transporting for, and in some scenarios, it can even escalate to you getting hurt if you’re not careful. That’s the last thing we want for anyone in our industry, which is why we want to spread awareness of some common theft scams, and how to avoid them. 

According to Travelers, there are two kinds of cargo theft: straight theft, and strategic theft.

Straight Theft 

Like the name suggests, this kind of theft involves cargo being stolen straight from where it sits. You’re most at risk for this kind of theft at truck stops, parking lots, drop lots, and anywhere else cargo could be left unattended. (It’s especially common for thieves to target store parking lots and empty drop lots on weekends.)

So, what can be done to prevent it? To combat this kind of theft, it’s important to take a multifaceted approach to security over the road by using effective procedures and policies. Some helpful policies to implement include:

  • Not leaving loaded trailers unattended whenever possible; especially in areas at high risk for theft.

  • Using high security rear door locks and air cuff locks.

  • Installing landing gear locks for when it’s unavoidable to stage/drop a load

Strategic Theft

This ever-evolving method of theft is sneakier than straight theft, so it requires more savvy and vigilance to prevent. To avoid falling victim to strategic theft, companies can employ thorough vetting practices of any carrier they do business with. 

The following strategies are suggested by Travelers:

  • Thoroughly researching contact information and company information through FMSCA, Internet search engines, third party vetting companies, and industry associations.

  • Working with shippers to confirm positive identification of drivers at the point of pick-up, including driver information, identifying information on the truck and trailer being used, and the use of secure pick-up numbers.

What to Look Out For

When seeking to prevent any kind of cargo theft, it helps to be aware of the tactics thieves are using these days. Here are the most common ones. 


Criminals will slowly and stealthily take goods from shipments in a way that makes it hard for businesses to notice anything is missing. If left undetected for a long time, this can lead to major losses, as those stolen pieces of cargo start to add up. 

Fraudulent Drivers & Pickups

A thief impersonates a driver who is authorized to pick up cargo. To accomplish this, they either use fraudulent paperwork, or rely on employees not following protocol put in place to confirm a driver’s identity. It’s important to note, once the cargo has been passed off to the wrong person, it’s extremely difficult to recover. 

False Emergency Stops

This happens when a driver is warned of a false issue with their vehicle. When they stop to see what’s wrong, thieves can take the cargo— or even the whole truck. This is another reason why it’s important to check your truck thoroughly before departure, eliminating any potential for hazards or other issues. You’ll also want to avoid stopping for any unplanned reason, unless the person warning you to stop is a trustworthy source. 

Truck Burglaries/Hijackings

When someone steals an entire unattended truck full of goods. This can happen at any time, but it’s even more of a risk at your first stop, since trucks can be tracked from their departure point. It’s recommended you don’t stop for the first 200 miles/4 hours after starting your route. 

Commercial Burglaries

These happen where a truck or its cargo is stored— locations such as truck yards, commercial facilities, businesses near railroads, etc. It’s easy for people to take advantage of commercial properties since cargo is left unattended there. The best defense: a good security system. 

Stay Safe

When in doubt, always double check with your customer or business partners if something feels off at any point. Often, a prospective thief will fall back if they’re met with any pushback or scrutiny. Finally, if you’ve recently had the misfortune of having your cargo stolen, here’s what you can do about it.

We hope these insights have been helpful, as we believe in the importance of safety here at Eagle Logistics!