Cargo security

Protect Your Cargo: Expert Tips to Thwart Theft and Secure Your Shipment

Cargo theft has become a globally challenging phenomenon driven by motivation, opportunity, and the ability of criminals to innovate their modus operandi and use sophisticated methods to steal cargo. A recent study also found that global economic instability has a direct impact and influence on cargo theft.

Criminals have been taking advantage of the lack of safe and secure parking spaces for trucks across Europe and targeting cargoes loaded on trucks as truck drivers are not often equipped or prepared to combat these criminals who are well organized and professional.

The criminal elements who often operate as Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) are highly skilled, determined, mobile criminals prepared to travel hundreds of kilometers. As a result, they are well aware of police tactics and the challenges surrounding cargo theft in many countries with diminishing policing capacity.

Types of cargo theft

The study done by BSI and TT Club showed that theft from trucks accounted for 65% of cargo theft in 2022 while theft from facilities accounted for 30%. Truck hijacking, theft of container/trailer and theft of vehicles topped the list of types of cargo thefts.

Risk of crime through insider activity including paying off drivers to deviate from their set route is on the rise and the global logistics industry needs to be alert to the changing threat landscape.

However, not all is doom and gloom and there are smart ways in which you can protect your cargo from being stolen. Here are some tips on how you can protect your cargo and thwart cargo theft.

Physical security of cargo

Physical security, while traditional, is still the first line of defense against cargo theft. 

  • Invest in secure warehousing, surveillance systems, and strong locks for enhanced security.
  • The importance of training staff on security protocols, conducting regular audits, and performing background checks cannot be overstated - these measures are critical for enhancing physical security.
  • Ensure the implementation of sturdy locking systems on trucks or container doors, validating their functionality before commencing transportation.
  • Adopt the use of tamper-evident seals or similar anti-tampering devices to inhibit unauthorized access to the cargo area of the truck. 
  • Position cameras near dispatch, shipping, or receiving windows to capture images of drivers' faces, providing a means for identification if any problems arise.

Leveraging technology

The use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices has the potential to revolutionize cargo security by providing specialized monitoring capabilities. Equipped with a variety of sensors and connectivity options, these devices offer real-time tracking of cargo. Enabling timely detection of any irregularities, geolocation not only helps to identify route deviations, but also assists with irregular or unplanned door-opening alerts.

GPS-enabled IoT devices that can track your cargo's location at all times, effectively reduce the risk of theft. These devices are available in both permanent and reusable forms, and they incorporate numerous features to optimize cargo security.

While all trackers should include essential functionalities such as geolocation and geofencing, it's important to consider the operational coverage offered by different trackers when making your selection.

The Traxens IoT tracking devices also encompass features influenced by transport conditions, such as temperature and humidity monitoring, shock detection, and door opening detection, which is contextualized. That is to say, algorithms also operate along with the door detection function that determines the location, the time of day and the duration which will help cargo owners decide if the opening of the door is suspicious.

These algorithmically determined qualified reports are delivered in real time which allows monitoring teams to react rapidly to situations as they develop. Thanks to intelligent algorithms embedded within these devices, they can accurately detect door openings, shocks, and unauthorized removal of the tracker. Real-time alerts are generated for these events, enabling customers to promptly take corrective action. Any significant deviation from the specified conditions can trigger immediate alerts, allowing for swift corrective measures to be implemented.

In addition to IoT devices, enhancing cargo security can also involve fitting trucks with security cameras and employing GPS or similar tracking technologies for constant monitoring of their location and movements.

Smart Containers

Smart containers are taking IoT to the next level. These are not just containers equipped with IoT devices; they incorporate technology into their very design. If a container is tampered with or opened without authorization, an alert is immediately sent. Additionally, smart containers have sensors that monitor not just the interior conditions but also external factors such as light exposure, indicative of potential tampering.

The true power of IoT devices and smart containers lies in their ability to generate vast amounts of data. Advanced data analytics can process this data to identify patterns and predict risks. For instance, if a particular route is associated with higher risks of theft, this can be identified through data analysis, allowing for proactive rerouting. Recognize potential security threats and devise strategies to mitigate these risks within the supply chain. Always weigh the security implications of any decisions made concerning cargo safety.

General tips

Stakeholders, including shippers and logistics/transportation firms, should exercise due diligence when hiring agents and staff. Offer staff training that focuses specifically on awareness and prevention of cargo theft. Shippers must collaborate closely with insurers and transportation providers to establish effective strategies to combat cargo theft.


The world of cargo security is evolving rapidly, with technology playing an increasingly central role. While traditional security measures remain essential, the adoption of IoT devices and smart containers can offer significantly enhanced protection for your cargo.

The data these technologies generate can drive operational efficiencies, cost savings, improved customer satisfaction, and regulatory compliance. So, it's time to harness the power of these advanced tools to protect your cargo and secure your peace of mind.

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