On The Rise: How to Prevent Shipping Container Theft

A recent study revealed an alarming 87% rise in cargo thefts occurring at the road transport level—putting shippers, receivers, and warehousers in danger of becoming victims. (source: Australian Institute of Criminology)

Last Updated:
January 24, 2024
| ~
min Read
Sarah Paxton
Marketing Writer

Gold, silver, and television sets. Last summer, twenty shipping containers disappeared from a port in Mexico in an “unprecedented” robbery. The shipping containers were stolen using onsite cranes, trucks, and equipment. How did cranes and trucks move such high-value merchandise without being detected? It was a choreographed inside job orchestrated by a large organized crime syndicate. 

Preventing shipping container theft and warehouse theft has become a more urgent issue. According to officials, incidents like these are on the rise. Large, organized crime syndicates have become increasingly bold in their robberies. During this incident, trucks drove up and sped away with containers. Like Santa loading up his sleigh on Christmas Eve. Only this time, no kids received gifts. The goods' location is still unknown. A shipping container theft of epic proportion.

Warehouse owners, shipping companies, and trucking operators have a massive territory to secure, vehicles to trace, and inventory to manage. In addition, robberies are often assisted by legitimate employees making money on the side by shoplifting goods, which makes preventing shipping container theft more problematic to control.

Thankfully, this isn’t a ballet, and shipping containers are not moved gracefully.

The challenges of preventing warehouse and shipping container theft:

  • The average warehouse is 50,000 square feet
  • Inventory is stacked fourteen to eighteen feet high
  • That’s more than an acre to protect
  • Thousands, if not millions of dollars in inventory in one location
  • Corners, aisles, shelves, buildings, lots, employees, containers, and wrapped crates are all uniquely challenging to monitor

Shipping containers themselves cost between $1,500 and $3,500 each. While not the ideal target for shipping container thieves, there is significant value in the containers themselves. They can be resold, are difficult to replace quickly, and have a variety of uses on the black market. Typically shipping containers are used to transport large, bulky items by land or sea. These items can include construction equipment, building materials, lumber, and vehicles.

Or, in the case of the theft in Mexico, gold, silver, and television sets.

Fact: Big, expensive stuff equals big attractive targets for theft.

Fiction: A big security installation process with a large staff and infrastructure is the best way to prevent shipping container theft.

Fact: Using high-tech, mobile security surveillance equipment is the best way to prevent shipping container and warehouse theft. 

How to Protect Shipping Containers and Warehouses from Theft

  1. Tighten security at all shipping and receiving points—these areas are where potential shipping container theft may occur if access isn't strictly restricted. Ensure that everyone present in those zones has valid credentials to be there. Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, including truckers loitering when they don't need to unload anything; a separate lounge area away from inventory can help ensure only authorized personnel have access.
  1. Make sure all doors and windows are equipped with locks. Take access permissions further, allowing only certain employees to enter and exit critical areas.
  1. Electronic security systems and surveillance can help monitor movements. There are also possible discounts from insurance companies—making them more cost-effective investments. In addition, intimidating potential thieves with simply the appearance of cameras allows businesses to show that they are looking out for suspicious behavior.

Eight reasons why using mobile security units to prevent shipping container theft is a no-brainer:

  1. Activities are recorded day and night using advanced detection technology. 
  2. Precise, targeted, intelligent telescoping cameras, floodlights, and audio alerts are massive deterrents. 
  3. Units can identify unusual activity, people, vehicles, movement, and highly suspicious activities, zooming in and out as necessary.
  4. All activities are recorded.
  5. The setup is fast.
  6. Usable in any urban or rural location.
  7. No onsite human presence is necessary.
  8. No hard wiring is necessary.

Get the security solution that no organized crime syndicate can bribe or influence. Lockdown any site in a day. It’s something business owners and shipping yard managers may be tempted to overthink. Adopting a new solution may also create anxiety from trying something new. 

But what happens when you combine old and new technologies? Like a grandparent and grandson, wisdom is passed down from generation to generation. Security 2.0 is leaps and bounds ahead of the old gangplank or cannon. 

Those can be saved for tourist attractions. 

High-tech security solutions for shipping yards and warehouses can quickly detect, zoom in on, and record unauthorized activity onsite. Lights deter criminals from the area, and multiple locations can be monitored in real-time to call authorities in an instant. 

Mobile security units also operate independently of security personnel onsite. Locations protected by mobile surveillance units are secured at all times—busy or not—to detect whenever merchandise is moving in an atypical way. 

Monitoring the flow of merchandise arrival and departure is important because the typical warehouse theft involves truck drivers teaming up with warehouse employees in a semi-undetectable heist. The two coordinate and create what they believe is the perfect opportunity for stealing without either being held accountable. They know the security gaps, are working from the inside, and know the supply chain.

Regardless of employee status, mobile surveillance units can target all key access points throughout the loading and unloading process. This is the most challenging part of the supply chain to secure. There are many ways merchandise can vanish that range from “short” orders being packed up or “losing” items.

These alleged errors go unnoticed and undetected during the hustle dockside with busy arrival and departure times. According to the American Insurance Council, people are more focused on getting trucks loaded and dispatched quickly than keeping an eye out for security issues.

Preventing container and warehouse theft with a technologically advanced security solution gives managers and owners many benefits. It gives peace of mind. It eliminates fear. It gives employees confidence there’s security backup available at all times. 

Schedule your demo today and protect shipping containers and prevent warehouse theft.

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