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Security in the Heartland: Midwest Cargo Security Council Meeting

Valuable security information and strategies were shared at the quarterly Midwest Cargo Security Council meeting. New measures were adopted and red flags were raised, including:

  • A plan to compile a list of thefts that happen in the region for discussion at future meetings
  • Notification that Eastern European cargo theft gangs that have been hitting the region hard
  • Notification that copper theft is on a rise
  • Pinpointing a date for the next quarterly meeting: November 10, Location TBD

But the most enlightening moments were presentations by executives from Mars, CEVA, and the Union Pacific Railroad Police.

Kevin Friker of Mars Corporation
Kevin Friker, Global Security Director of Mars Corporation

Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Kevin Friker, Global Security Director of Mars Corporation, the 3rd largest private company in the world, talked about the company’s methodology in protecting fast moving consumer goods. Their customers are wholesale distributors, and their security concerns vary, given that it is a global and decentralized company. A team of seven executives oversees their security worldwide, advising their locations of current risks. While they lead those facilities in the right direction, they ultimately allow each site to adapt their security measures according to their individual needs. Their focuses are:

  • Workplace Security
  • Physical and Technical Security

Friker raised the issue of supply chain diversion as a security issue. Diversion is the practice of a corporation negotiating to sell a product to a distributor in a foreign country at a discounted price, one usually mandated by that country’s government. The American corporation is thereby able to establish a new market with a small margin of profit. Problems arise when the foreign distributor purchases an excess of the product, and surreptitiously sells that excess back to U.S. markets at a lower price point than those set by the corporation, thereby undercutting the company’s profits. This practice is legal in all states except for California.

Tom Gorniak CEVA logistics
Tom Gorniak of CEVA Logistics

Internal Security is Vital

Tom Gorniak of CEVA Logistics stressed the importance of internal security in preventing cargo theft. As a prominent player in the shipping of electronics, CEVA's security is highly accustomed to thwarting cargo thieves.

Gorniak stressed that companies situated in industrial and commercial zones which are sparsely populated at night need to ensure they have and maintain sufficient internal security to deter theft without the assistance of police. These facilities are high-value targets for organized crime. Professional cargo thieves break in late at night or on the weekends by forcible measures, knowing it’s highly unlikely anyone will hear. Once inside, they retreat for a period of time to see if police will respond to the alarm. If no one responds, they re-enter and even use the facility’s equipment to load a truck with merchandise.

Failure to respond to an alarm is a common problem, due to in part to heavy budget cuts in law enforcement resources in recent years, and in another part due to high false alarm rates. Gorniak encouraged similarly situated distribution centers to adopt internal security measures that include:

  • Routinely checking all alarms to ensure they are in working order
  • Instituting internal measures to verify all alarm calls
  • Perimeter security protection for the facility

Law Enforcement Stars

Jack Harris, Division Director, and Tim Bassie, Lieutenant of the Union Pacific Railroad Police, made an impressive presentation of their accomplishments. With 220 officers nationwide, the Union Pacific Railroad Police have more training and certifications than many local police departments require. Their Midwest division has 22 officers in their unit and they patrol IL, WI, MN, IA, and they've achieved some impressive accomplishments:

  • They recently seized 226 kilos of cocaine and 25 thousand pounds of marijuana. The marijuana seizure was the largest in U.S. history.
  • In the past, they have dealt with al-Qaeda trying to blow up fuel/chemical railcars in major U.S. cities. They have been successful in eliminating and preventing these terrorist attacks.
  • Union Pacific is self-insured, which means security is a major priority.
  • Highly successful in their work, they work directly with the border patrol and offer classes to local police agencies on railroad theft.

In no small part thanks to their efforts, railroad theft is now at an all-time low.

Conclusion

Information sharing is vital to preventing cargo theft, so here at Electric Guard Dog, we encourage all our customers to engage in their regional security council. Join the Midwest Cargo Security Council group on LinkedIn if you’d like to learn more. And stay tuned with us — we’ll be posting the date and location of the November meeting.

Topics: Cargo Theft, Law Enforcement, Commercial Security, Midwest Cargo Security Council