n Part I of Filching Freight, we caught up with renowned cargo theft expert J.J. Coughlin, author of Cargo Crime, VP at LoJack SCI and chairman of the Southwest Transportation Security Council, to learn the what/when/why and how about a gang of thieves currently targeting LTL terminals in Texas and Southeastern U.S. The case is still unsolved, and the thefts are ongoing: multiple LTL terminals, located in proximity to one another in smaller southeastern towns, have been victimized in a single night.
For Part II, we talked to J.J. again, asking the cargo theft expert what LTLs in the affected region CAN DO to better protect themselves.
Current Security at the LTLs
A few of the victimized LTL terminals had CCTV cameras. Let me ask you about the camera footage. These thieves have been caught on camera several times during these raids, but they’re still at large. Aren’t the pictures any good?
“The pictures are of varying degrees: some decent, some not. But they are going to have to use old-fashioned police work to track and identify who they are from other physical evidence. It is not like there is enough there to get facial recognition.”
But the cameras are not stopping them from entering the premises, either.
“Cameras are only as good as the evidence they provide. If you have CCTV cameras on your fencepost or around the top of your building, all they may show is a stick guy walking across your yard; that doesn’t do you any good. It’s not identifiable or actionable information.”
So the location of the cameras matters for prosecution purposes, but ideally, you’d rather not be robbed in the first place.
“If it’s not a smart camera — if it doesn’t notify you that there is something happening or set off some sort of alarm — then it’s not worth having. You have got to have smart cameras or a fence that has an alarm like Electric Guard Dog. Some kind of remote notification system or you are going to be victimized. You have to look from a layered perspective. You want to have more than one measure of security.”
Security Priorities Begin at the Perimeter
So walk us though what, in your professional opinion, these LTLs need in order to have layers of security.
“I’m not going to take you to optimal, because optimal is: I have a guard, a perimeter electric security fence, and I have cameras. That is optimal and nobody wants to pay for optimal. The minimal is let’s look at what they’re doing, and get something in place that at least notifies us that something has happened.
You have to decide on a standard. We know they are breaching a chain link fence, cutting open gates, so locks aren’t enough. You need something that notifies you when the perimeter is breached, not the building. Smart cameras or Electric Guard Dog will do that. They will monitor the yard and notify you immediately if it is breached.
And Electric Guard Dog has an added shock deterrent, so they might bypass that yard altogether. As I mention in my book, “Cargo Crime”, I used Electric Guard Dog at four locations when I was a security manager. Every time I did, I went from constant theft problems to none.”
Thanks for the mention. One detail we want to ask: would you recommend that the alarm notify police, or a private company?
“I would recommend one that notifies the owner or stakeholder first and let them decide whether to send the police. They may know someone has entered their yard and perhaps made a mistake with the alarm.”
What else can the LTLs do in terms of staging the yard, so it’s not so easy to break into the trailers? Can they arrange their delivery schedules?
“It is hard for LTLs to schedule when someone else’s freight is going to arrive. They can control what kind of freight they leave in their yard, though. They can also back the trailers up to each other or to a wall, or make it harder to get the doors open. It’s kind of a hassle to do, but it would help. If they upped their security tiers just a bit, they probably wouldn’t have to change much of their operation.”
Anything LTLs should be looking at doing long term?
“There’s one more thing, but it’s major, and it’s the reason we know so much about this gang of thieves in the first place. I want to go into that in some depth.”
Stay tuned for Part III of Filching Freight for J.J. Coughlin’s long-term recommendations on how to protect your facility from cargo theft.
If you have an LTL terminal in the affected area and know you need more security, contact an Electric Guard Dog representative for a free site security evaluation.
J.J. Coughlin has been the VP, Law Enforcement Services & Logistics Accounts for LoJack SCI since 2007, after spending more than a decade as a regional security manager in the transportation industry and two decades as a detective sergeant for the Dallas Police Department. He is chairman of the Southwest Transportation Security Council and the author of “Cargo Crime: Security and Theft Prevention.”
Electric Guard Dog, LLC, the #1 Theft Deterrent Service™, is the nationwide market leader in electric security fencing. In a 2010 independent survey, 95% of their customers stated they've had NO external theft since installing Electric Guard Dog electric security fence system.
A security partner for 3,000+ commercial and industrial locations across the nation, they provide a safe and effective solution to protect businesses from cargo theft and copper theft, and a safer work environment for employees, all while reducing total security costs.