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Pirates of the Trucking Industry
4 mins read

Nowadays, identity theft is a common problem.  The trucking industry is dealing with a growing new form of identity theft with thieves stealing millions of dollars in merchandise, often food and beverages. The theft is shockingly simple: Thieves pose as truckers, load huge shipments of valuable cargo onto their own tractor-trailers and then simply drive away.

Experts say the practice is growing so rapidly that it will soon become the most common way to steal valued goods.

The old way of stealing loaded trucks out of parking lots is out, mainly because of the industry’s increasing use of GPS devices, high-tech locks and other advanced security measures.

Experts weighing in on the issue claim that the internet is helping to drive this scam Databases online allow conmen to assume the identities of true freight haulers and search for the specific commodities they want to steal.

The trucking industry is not the only stakeholder being hurt by this practice. The consumer is also getting the raw end of the deal figuring as retail prices are raised for food and other products. Also, the freight reaching the shelves could potentially be unsafe for consumption.

A few news reports from around the country list the thefts: 80,000 pounds of walnuts worth $300,000 in California, $200,000 of Muenster cheese in Wisconsin, rib-eye steaks valued at $82,000 in Texas and 25,000 pounds of king crab worth $400,000 in California.

The thefts are not known by many individuals not connected to the world of commercial trucking. Many companies that have had their freight stolen are not usually willing to talk about their losses.

The scheme usually works in the following way: Thieves assume the identity of a trucking company, usually by reactivating an inactive Department of Transportation carrier number from a government website for around $300. This allows them to trick brokers into believing that they are a long-established company with a good safety record. The deception will often include paperwork such as insurance policies, fake driver’s licenses and other documents.

The con artists then offer low bids to freight brokers who handle shipping for numerous companies. When the truckers show up at a company, everything seems legitimate. But once the loads are driven away with they are never seen again.  The thieves will then store them in large warehouses and sell the goods on the black market.

Other than retail prices increasing, the problem is serious. Something like spoiled poultry could harm thousands.  A stolen load of pharmaceuticals could lead to a worldwide recalls as companies could not guarantee that containers were not tampered with prior to being sold from shelves.

According to Cargo Theft Prevention and Recovery Network’s (CargoNet) 2012 report, food and beverages were the most commonly stolen items, accounting for 23 percent of all thefts last year. Next were metals at 16 percent, electronics and household goods at 12 percent each. Other products accounted for the remaining 37 percent, including pharmaceuticals at 3 percent.

The California Farm Bureau Federation says to look at for clues that could indicate a suspicious hauler such as temporary name placards or identification numbers on the truck.  Also, look for abrupt changes in the time of the pickup and lack of a GPS tracking system on the truck. Another suggestion is to get a thumbprint from the truck driver.

This is something that is warranting a lot of attention. Companies beware.

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