Physical security, confined to one business location can be daunting. Integrating corporate security across multiple business units can be more so. Physical security of corporate assets for business with fleet vehicles can be nearly impossible. Static, limited access locations have fewer variables that affect security risks. Essentially, management is able to control nearly every aspect of security posturing. These controls can encompass everything from traditional locked doors to biometric scanners and voice-print analysis. Management can hire security officers and install cameras and monitoring banks.

It is vital, though, that security processes do not unduly interfere with the mission of the business. A totally secure facility may be protected but no one will be able to work there. There are inherent risks that must be accepted. This is very difficult for fleet managers to address. Depending on the type of service provided by a fleet, there may be many inherent risks that are both extremely likely to occur and extremely critical.

If we study cargo transportation such as provided by the estimated 500,000 over-the-road trucking businesses operating in the United States, we can easily discern extensive losses. These yearly losses equal $15 billion to $30 billion in direct loss and up to $130 billion in national economic loss. However, we can usually reduce the probability and the criticality of risks.

It is commonly understood in the security industry that the large majority of cargo losses occur from internal theft rather than from external threats.Therefore some of the best solutions focus on occupational fraud risk reduction models targeted at employee accountability. Some of these procedures include:

  • Invoicing programs that identify incoming orders, shipping, payment, and receipt of product.
  • Separation of functions to insure that no one person will have access to the entire ordering and payment process.
  • Ethics policies and training to instill ethical decision making at all levels of operations.
  • Clearly defined recruiting and retention processes that include trust and verification tools and requirements.

Additionally, since cargo theft has unique risk factors, there are several other basic processes that can be implemented in order to reduce the potential for cargo theft. Some of these procedures include:

  • Do not permit drivers to load or unload cargo. This removes the opportunity for drivers to control the entire shipment and therefore reduces the opportunity for theft.
  • The majority of theft comes from pilferage, opportunistic theft of small amounts of cargo. To dissuade this type of criminal activity, management could install recording cameras at loading docks and even in containers, if warranted. Additionally, processes could be put in place to secure cargo at early stages of the transportation process, such as wrapping pallets in cellophane as soon as the cargo is inventoried.
  • Considerable organized theft can occur that targets entire shipments. These instances might include internal as well as external thieves working together. The inside-man will usually provide intelligence to external counterparts and facilitate the large thefts. To limit the opportunity for large thefts, it would be advisable to frequently switch driver routes, require stops at only pre-approved waypoints with adequate security, and limiting (as much as possible) knowledge of the specific nature of the cargo.
  • Consider GPS tracking, which can indicate use of non-approved stops and inconsistent routing.

These are a few general security concepts that will assist decision-makers in reducing risks associated with theft from internal and external criminals. It is important to understand that each organization is different and requires a very individualized approach to risk reduction.

Rick Schumacher leverages professional experience to provide top-tier investigative oversight, regulatory compliance, emergency & disaster management, and physical security management. He has spent his career focusing on ethical decision-making, fraud management, understanding and developing fraud patterns and underlying reasons for occupational misconduct, and developing emergency and continuity of operations plans. He is a graduate of the US Army Physical Security Manager’s Course, holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Master of Public Affairs degrees from Park University, and has been a Certified Fraud Examiner since 2010. To learn what he can do for your organization please reach him at