Cargo Security: Protecting Your LTL Freight

Posted by Jeff Ferber on February 1, 2019 - 9:54 AM
Padlock depicting ArcBest cargo security

Cargo theft in North America

Cargo theft isn’t just a big issue for shippers and carriers. It also has a significant impact on the economy. When freight is stolen, supply chains are disrupted, freight isn’t delivered as planned, customer satisfaction is impacted, and downstream costs are incurred (including higher insurance rates). The costs for all of this ultimately gets passed on to the consumer.

When considering the effect of cargo theft on businesses and consumers, it becomes more important than ever for shippers to partner with a carrier that has a low claims rate and consistently delivers goods intact, on time and damage free. Learn how ArcBest®  less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight® has taken proactive steps to reduce cargo theft and protect freight. 

When and where cargo theft is most likely to occur

According to an American Journal of Transportation article, CargoNet, a national theft prevention network, reported an estimated $145 million of freight was stolen in the U.S. and Canada in 2017. The same report showed that weekends, when cargo is at rest and unattended, are a prime time for theft. Friday was the highest theft day at 19 percent, with Saturday at 17 percent and Sunday at 16 percent. In 37 percent of the cases, cargo was left unattended for multiple days with no electronic tracking, witnesses or surveillance to determine the exact day of loss. When this was the case, the theft was assumed to have happened on the first possible day — which was highest on Sunday at 17 percent and Monday at 16 percent.  

Cargo theft happened most commonly at warehouse locations and fenced yards. The report noted that this doesn’t necessarily indicate that fenced yards are targets — it’s common for theft “hot spots” like industrial and metropolitan areas to be fenced.

Our commitment to freight security

For 95 years, ABF has been one of the nation’s most trusted carriers — every shipment is important to us. From the manufacturer’s dock to the consumer’s hands, we work to ensure the safety of your freight.

Awards from the American Trucking Associations’ Transportation Security Council acknowledge our industry-leading security and cargo care record. ABF is:

  • An eight-time winner of the Excellence in Security Award
  • A seven-time winner of the ATA President’s Trophy for Safety
  • A seven-time winner of the Excellence in Claims & Loss Prevention award
  • A four-time Quest for Quality National LTL Carrier recipient
  • A Mastio & Company Exceed the Industry Benchmark award recipient

Our Safety and Security Team

ABF employs a nationally recognized Safety and Security Department made up of professionals with backgrounds in local, state and federal law enforcement. Across our network, we employ regional safety and security managers who monitor our equipment, cargo and drivers, and full-time investigators, who are 100 percent dedicated to proactive theft prevention and investigating all allegations of theft. With extensive training and experience in criminal investigations and transportation-specific events, our team knows the best methods for protecting your freight.

How ABF prevents cargo theft

ABF Freight strives to stay ahead of the industry in cargo theft prevention. The technology and procedures in place allow us to provide enhanced security measures for every shipment. Our first layer of security involves procedure: ABF trucks stop at secure service centers where safety measures are in place to protect freight 24/7. From pickup to delivery, freight moves seamlessly through our network. Here’s how the process works:

Once freight is loaded, the trailer is sealed. During transit, the equipment isn’t left alone for more than a few minutes (for fueling and driver breaks) to ensure we maintain physical control. It remains locked unless it’s being loaded or unloaded at one of our secure service centers. Freight travels through our system in a “hub and spoke” fashion until it reaches the destination (i.e. the shipment goes from one service center to the next until it reaches the destination facility where the freight is unloaded and deconsolidated for delivery).

A second layer of security involves technology. All ABF Freight tractors are GPS trackable via electronic logging devices (ELDs). With this technology, we can track shipments in real time, to see where the tractor is currently located and where it has been. Customers also have access to 24/7 online tracking.

Additionally, through electronic mobile dispatch, service centers are notified of when each shipment should arrive. If it doesn’t arrive within the expected window, service center personnel will contact dispatch and the driver to investigate its location.

Service center protection

When freight sits overnight at our service centers, we have security measures in place to help assure its protection. These security measures include:

  • Fencing/Gating — A secure gate surrounds each service center (some locations have electric fencing). Employees inspect the perimeter daily for breaches and keep it clean of debris.
  • Alarm systems — Alarm systems and motion sensors help detect security breaches of the yard and station.
  • Lighting — Proper visibility is in place at the main gate and around the service center and yard area. Perimeter lighting is also used as an extra precaution.
  • Locks — All exterior doors have bolted locks, and all ABF trailers have permanently mounted padlocks.
  • Dock security — Dock doors remain closed when not in use. Security guards are also on duty to monitor the dock and facility during non-business hours, weekends and holidays.
  • Trailer restrictions — Trailers waiting for dispatch or unloading stay locked or are parked in a manner that prevents entry. Trailers also are equipped with kingpin locks to prevent the trailer from moving.  
  • Storage — When storage is necessary for high-value or theft-prone cargo, security cages or locked trailers are used.

Trust us to deliver your LTL shipments

Our commitment to cargo security gives customers a significant supply chain advantage. Regardless of what you’re shipping, you can rely on us for secure transportation solutions. If you need additional security, ArcBest also offers premium logistics solutions for highly sensitive freight.

If you have more questions about how freight is protected in transit, or if you’re ready to book your shipment, call 800-610-5544.