Why Are Loading Docks a Security Concern?
There are two major safety concerns that are common in and around loading docks:
- Cargo Theft
- Product Tampering
Here in the United States, cargo theft accounts for $15-$30 billion a year. (Though, that number does include theft throughout the entire shipping process and not just when shipments arrive at a specific dock). Since the onset of Covid-19, we know that cargo theft is increasing.
The FBI defines cargo theft as, “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility. For purposes of this definition, cargo shall be deemed as moving in commerce at all points between the point of origin and the final destination, regardless of any temporary stop while awaiting transshipment or otherwise.”
Why Shipping Docks are Prime Locations for Cargo Theft
You may be thinking, “How could anyone steal from my company’s shipping dock while people are there actively unloading or loading a truck?” Well, here are some of the reasons.
- Cargo theft is often planned, and occasionally, the employees are the ones in on the plan. That said, they may just look the other way if they are not the ones completely involved.
- Since freight is on wheels, it’s easy for criminals to disconnect the power unit, and steal the entire truckload.
- Occasionally, the delivery drivers leave the trucks running, even when they are not in the actual truck.
- The trailers might be sitting at a dock for days, fully loaded, before a delivery driver comes to take it away.
It is very easy for individuals (including employees) to tamper with various packages at a shipping doc. The various types of “tampering” can include:
- Hiding explosives
- Adding poisoning substances
- Straight up damaging products and/or the packaging
How to Help Minimize Security Risks
First and foremost, it is important to train your employees, encourage open communication and to speak up when they see something suspicious! Doing so will help your overall company culture, and can decrease the chance of cargo theft.
Additionally, it is important to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for loading/unloading. Within the SOP, make sure to include the following.
- Detach the truck from the trailer when possible and attach a hitch lock.
- Turn off the truck while unloading and loading
- Do not leave loaded trailers overnight (when possible). Additionally, avoid leaving loaded cargo trailers over the weekend.
- Require some kind of an easily identifiable (perhaps bright orange) name badge for any non-employees, such as the delivery driver.
- Make use of added security, when onsite security guards, artificial intelligence, and/or a mixture of both
Loading docks can be a very easy target for criminals. We strongly suggest taking various forms of precautions that we listed above. If you are interested in receiving a Security Gap Report, please contact us!