CHAPTER 29

SECURITY OF CARGO

 

Introduction

 

The transportation industry of today demands attention to detail. In addition to terrorist threats, cargo theft, and personal security, the typical driver has to be aware of many security issues. Vehicles are increasingly being seen as possible weapons if they fall into the wrong hands. A commercial truck might be used as a weapon of mass destruction depending on its size and what it transports.

 

The majority of Americans and the majority of the rest of the globe believed that terrorist activities only took place in other countries and most definitely not in their backyards until September 11, 2001, and the resulting loss of life and damage on U.S. territory. The very real threat of a huge vehicle, like a truck or jet, being used within our borders to bring death and havoc has altered how we all see security in the modern day. All drivers are becoming possible targets for terrorists and hijackers due to the increase in terrorism.

 

In this chapter you will learn about security issues and safeguarding practices in the areas of: Terrorist threats; Cargo and vehicle theft; and Personal security.

 

This section seeks to provide a realistic picture of the dangers that exist on open roads, at shippers and receivers, at truck stops, and everywhere else in between.

 

Terrorism Threats

 

The Department of Homeland Security was established as a branch of the Federal Government because terrorism in this country became so real in 2001. Its goals are to prevent terrorist attacks inside the United States, lessen the country's vulnerability to terrorism, minimize damage from terrorist attacks, and help the country recover from them.

 

The movement of many different sorts of freight, vehicles, and equipment throughout our nation is now strictly regulated and controlled by this agency. It is a very real possibility that a commercial vehicle may be utilized at some point in the future to cause widespread death and damage within our borders.

You must become a qualified professional on how to prevent and/or react to risks and issues affecting your freight and equipment if you want to be a successful truck driver. You must also grasp your obligations with the security of the country.

 

The freight you are hauling or the vehicle you are operating could feasibly be used to carry out a terrorist plot. Consider the following:

 

  • If you are shipping food products, product tampering (also known as bioterrorism) might be a reason for someone to have access to your cargo. A terrorist can try to contaminate food or agricultural product with metal, chemicals, bio-agents, etc. You are a possible target even if you are delivering animal feed. A terrorist might contaminate the animal food supply, making it feasible for people to consume a chemical or poisonous toxin.

 

  • The potential for using your vehicle and/or its cargo as a mobile bomb and attacking landmarks, hospitals, schools, and other densely populated locations increases if you are carrying chemicals, radioactive materials, or explosives. Bulk chemicals have the potential to pollute food and water supplies, deplete natural resources, and make large portions of the nation inhabitable.

 

  • If you are transporting general goods that are neither chemical nor agricultural, your truck's size and fuel capacity alone might make it a formidable target for hijackers. No matter what you are transporting, you should constantly be aware of your surroundings as a professional driver.

 

Keep in mind that terrorism is not always international in origin. Many home-grown extremist groups have an axe to grind against certain companies, industries, or the U.S. government. Remember, terrorism, regardless of its motive or origin, is always in someone’s backyard. It has become painfully clear that terrorism happens in the United States, not always directed from somewhere else.

 

Cargo Theft

 

For decades, criminal gangs have made money off of stealing cargo. It's sometimes surprising how sophisticated these thieves are. It simply only a few minutes to:

  • Take a load to a warehouse and dismantle it for distribution, some- times to unsuspecting legitimate businesses;

 

  • Rename a truck or trailer for future usage by painting over all identifying markings;

 

  • Transfer the load to another truck or trucks for further movement and distribution.

 

Theft of a trailer or just its contents could occur while;

 

  • The vehicle is unattended during a driver’s break or home time;

 

  • The driver is in the sleeper berth; or

 

  • The trailer is staged at a drop-yard or terminal.

 

Some crimes, like highjackings, need the perpetrator to know exactly what is in your trailer—including the item being carried, the location, and the time—for it to be successful. When a chance to steal food or fuel presents itself, these crooks anticipate their target and wait outside the shipper to follow the automobile. In rare instances, they may be able to recognize a product by a specific distribution facility and a trailer that is transporting it based on the "billboard" of the trailer. If it is well known, inside knowledge is not even necessary. Waiting for the first vehicle that offers a chance is all that's left to be done.

 

Even huge million-dollar cargo thefts get a lot of attention, petty theft costs the economy countless amounts of money every year. Local thieves who just desire a handful of the products and are hoping you won't discover the disparity until you reach your ultimate destination are examples of this sort of crime. The shortfall may also be caused by a dishonest warehouse or dockworker at the shipper or recipient who takes a few things, leaving your carrier (or you) to cover the cost. At the point of origin, with a shipper observing the amount, it is crucial to compare the load's count to the shipping documents. At the recipient, do the same.

 

Personal Security

 

In addition to protecting the goods being delivered, drivers must also take precautions to avoid bodily harm and the loss of personal property. Consider the top recommendations below:

​1. Personal possessions — On the road, it seems to sense that drivers want to feel at home. Bringing portable electronic devices like PDAs, laptop computers, MP3 players, and TVs may be necessary to do this. If you bring any comforts from home, be careful not to leave anything valuable out in the open where a passerby may see it. If you have a sleeping berth, tuck these goods discretely inside of it, behind the seat, or in another less noticeable place. In the same respect, be careful what you leave in a motel room while you grab a bite to eat or run some errands. Last but not least, you are proud of the things you own, but a truck stop is no place to brag about what latest and greatest gadgets you may have in your truck. This type of talk “motivates” would-be thieves to pay attention to what you are saying and where you parked your truck.

2. Money — Drivers should never flash large amounts of cash when paying for meals, fuel, or any other purchases. Safeguard your wallets and keep all receipts with account numbers. Local criminals are waiting for the unsuspecting traveler. You do not want to be the victim of a pick-pocket or someone rummaging through an unlocked truck. It is advisable to travel with the least amount of credit cards as possible, leaving the rest at home under lock and key. Leave the check book at home as well. Out-of-state checks are rarely accepted at most places anyway. A debit card would be the better choice if you wanted to use funds directly from your checking account.

3. ATM visits — When drivers are out on the road longer than expected, they sometimes need large sums of money from an ATM. This seemingly simple task should not be taken lightly. It has its own list of dangers associated with it. Take the following precautions:

 

  • Be alert at all times when using an ATM.

  • Avoid using an ATM in an isolated or poorly lighted area.

  • Refrain from displaying your cash. Place it in your pocket as soon as the transaction is completed.

  • Do not make a transaction if you notice someone suspicious.

  • Find another machine or come back later.

  • Protect your ATM or debit card as you would cash or a credit card. Never let anyone else use it.

  • Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not write it down on your card or leave it in your wallet.

 

Identifying Suspicious Activities

 

In a very short period, the majority of workers get used to their workplace environment. This "normalcy" will make it easier to determine what is normal or exceptional. Anything that seems unexpected or out of the norm ought to raise suspicions about probable suspicious activities. Even if it's only a hunch or suspicion, workers must inquire about action rather than letting it go and subsequently having it turn into an issue. Keep in mind that anything that doesn't seem quite right should probably be checked out.

 

The following list may be used to aid and identify suspicious activities while at a terminal, dock, or any location:

  • Unidentified person(s) attempting to gain access to equipment.

  • Unidentified person(s) seen in a normally restricted or secured area.

  • An employee, vendor, or supplier in a part of the office for no known reason.

  • An unescorted or unaccompanied visitor anywhere in the building, or wandering around the external facility.

  • Any person (employee, visitor, vendor, stranger) who appears to be hiding something or is acting nervous, anxious, or secretive.

  • Any employee, visitor, or vendor making unusual or repeated requests for sensitive or important company-related information.

  • Any person or group loitering outside the facility.

  • Any person claiming to be a utility worker but unable to produce proper identification.

  • Anyone not possessing proper identification.

  • Anyone claiming to have an appointment that is not listed.

  • Any person (employee, visitor, vendor, or stranger) carrying a weapon.

  • Any vehicle parked outside the building or near the grounds for a long period or after normal work hours.

  • An unfamiliar vehicle appearing to have been abandoned near the building or grounds.

  • A disgruntled employee wanting to take revenge on the organization, supervisor, or co-worker.

 

When evaluating a possible danger, motor carrier personnel need to utilize common sense and good judgment. Employees will be required to report any suspicious behavior to their immediate supervisor, the next-level management, the corporate safety/security officer, or the police and/or fire department, depending on the circumstance.

 

While on the road, drivers need to be:

  • Be careful when you depart from the shipper. The bulk of highjackings take place a few kilometers from where the cargo originated;

  • Conscious of other vehicles that may be following for long distances;

  • Suspicious of other motorists that are signaling you to stop; and

  • Alert to details in the event you need to file a police report. Be a good witness.

 

In-Transit Security Tips

 

The security protocols that most employers have set up were probably created for a reason. They cannot be disregarded or seen as a bother. To do so will put you, your vehicle, your load, and potentially the nation at risk.

The following are just a few security best practices that you as a driver may be called upon to abide by:

 

  • Communications — Many companies demand that drivers keep up regular contact, whether it is via phone or a satellite communication system. Make sure the phone call is as secret and unheard-of as possible when you're checking in. This covers using a mobile phone, landline, or pay phone. When you check in with the workplace, family, or friends, you simply never know who is listening.

 

  • Tight lips — Drivers should never discuss load-related information.

 

Information such as load content, pick-up and delivery schedules, and routing, should never be offered to anyone while on the road. This includes even the friendliest of faces at the counter of the truck stop or a “fellow trucker” on the CB. Criminals can and do listen in on CB conversations between drivers or even pose as a driver to draw information out of you.

 

Resting and parking — Only reputable truck stops or busy rest places should accept drivers' pauses. They need to leave their vehicles in well-lit spaces with other trucks nearby. To increase the security of the cargo, the trailer should, wherever feasible, be backed up against a wall, fence, or another closed trailer. When at truck stops, eateries, or hotels, the cargo needs to be parked so that the driver can see it clearly, and trailer seals, pin locks, and other vehicle security tools are to be used. When waiting to make deliveries, drivers should avoid stopping on dark roadways or in empty places. Even though it may seem obvious, drivers should always maintain the keys in their possession and remember to lock their cars.

 

Strangers asking the driver to stop — Anyone who asks you to quit should be taken seriously. Often, hijackers will set up an incident that prompts or compels the motorist to halt. Always presume that whoever attempts to steal or break into your vehicle is armed and dangerous. Never attempt to be a hero. For assistance, immediately dial the police.

 

Inspection of the vehicle — Your equipment and load should be inspected after each stop or rest period not only for safety-related defects, but also for signs of tampering or intrusion. The padlock or cargo seal should be examined for anything unusual, and the driver should look over the vehicle itself for anything suspicious.

 

Routes — An organized travel itinerary alone might serve as a security measure. The optimum route involves making as few pauses as possible or, if necessary, driving straight to the destination without stopping. Never transport a load home, via a neighbor's house, or to an unattended parking spot. Furthermore, you need to avoid requesting instructions on the CB. You just have no idea who you are speaking with, and they can be leading you straight into disaster.

 

Summary

 

In general, security is just common sense. You must be careful with your words and be alert to anything that seems odd or suspicious. Always be on the lookout for anybody who could be observing, listening, or unduly curious about your cargo or route.

 

Knowing who to contact in response to a particular danger is also crucial. Million-dollar mobile warehouses go along the highway every day, unseen by the authorities. Terrorists might at any point get a chemical that is possibly flammable and could be utilized as a WMD. Every second matters and any information you can provide can help with an investigation and with the security of you, your gear, your business, and your nation.