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Sunday, February 25, 2024
Logistics

Malibu trailer theft reminder of vulnerability of carriers’ assets

The worst nightmare of every business owner became reality last December for one Malibu, California, homebuilder, “John”: His trailer and $300,000 worth of wood inside it were stolen from his garage.

While John had secured his trailer, that did not deter the persistent criminal, who busted the lock and sneaked away in the night with his haul.

Not only did the theft jeopardize John’s ability to do his job, but it also could have risked his reputation with his customer, and company as a whole.

“Trailer theft is quick and accessible, meaning when a trailer is not protected, if a thief has a trailer hitch it can be a sub-30-second theft, never to be found again,” said Ian Conley, regional business development manager at LandAirSea Systems, an Illinois-based GPS tracking company that takes pride in serving the transportation industry. “People believe trailer locks are a main deterrent, but a slightly determined criminal with a hammer only adds about 10 seconds to the theft.”

Once a thief scratches off the serial number on a trailer — as any cunning criminal would — it’s nearly impossible to trace back to its original owner, Conley said.

In Malibu, 37 trailer thefts were reported in just a two-month period at the end of last year, according to LandAirSea. This is a startling number but on trend with the troubling uptick in theft throughout the country. 

A CargoNet report shows in 2022 there was a 17% increase in commercial vehicle theft, which includes either a tractor or a trailer. 

“As the economy begins to fall from where it was just a year ago, theft is rapidly on the rise,” Conley said. “With trailers being an easy mark, with or without cargo, they have become an increasingly targeted product in the criminal world.”

In the freight industry, trailers, loaded or empty, are too valuable to lose.

Fifty-three-foot dry van trailers easily fetch five figures on used equipment websites, and the number skyrockets when cargo is stolen with it; the average value of stolen cargo was $214,104 per event last year, according to the same CargoNet report.

“Aside from the financial impact of a trailer being stolen, many times insurance providers take months before paying out claims. Being without a trailer for months can cripple a business, and this leaves them in a tricky spot,” Conley added.

Carriers, however, have a lot of expensive equipment that constantly moves across the country, making it challenging to keep tabs on. The average carrier maintains a 2.46:1 ratio of trailers per tractor, and one of the country’s largest private fleets maintains eight trailers for every tractor in its arsenal. 

With so many valuable assets, both in use and idle, carriers need to be able to protect their property from criminals around the clock and at scale.

But if locking up equipment isn’t foolproof, as was the case for John, what can businesses do to protect their assets?

Conley suggests two methods: reporting and tracking.

“When it comes to fleet management, not only do you want detailed reporting for your own logs and business records, but it becomes even more necessary if something is stolen,” Conley said. “Law enforcement agencies typically say that the first 48 hours are going to be the most important in recovering stolen property. Without a real-time GPS tracking device or an army of people to hunt down your property, it becomes very difficult to capitalize on those first 48 hours.”

A happy ending thanks to LandAirSea

Thankfully, John’s story ended on a positive note because he had a LandAirSea GPS tracker.

After hearing about the increasing number of trailer thefts in Malibu, he had installed two trackers on his trailer: a LandAirSea 54 GPS and another company’s tracker. The latter was removed by the thief, but not the LandAirSea device, because of its dark mode feature, rendering it near impossible to see at night.

When John heard the trailer was missing, he was able to track the stolen property using his LandAirSea GPS mobile app and lead authorities to the thief. He saved his trailer, $300,000 worth of material and likely his reputation with his customer.

This is all because John was able to stay one step ahead of the thief. Because LandAirSea 54 is fully magnetic, waterproof and dustproof, it can be installed on the inside or outside of a trailer, truck or anything that needs tracking. This allowed John to place it in a discreet location on his trailer that the thief did not see.

Companies with LandAirSea 54 GPS installed on their trailers, tractors or other assets can see the real-time location of all their assets on one map that can be easily integrated into their TMS. 

“Aside from the tracking device itself, LandAirSea offers a brand new,  customizable fleet management software that can be used for a variety of fleets, trailers included. Monitoring trailers in real time is a new concept, but with the distance traveled and the cargo they hold, why would someone not want to know exactly where it is at all times?” Conley explained.

With automated alerts, fleet owners can also instantly know when their assets are on the move outside of their specified geographic or speed parameters.

Its affordability is another perk, allowing large carriers to protect their assets at scale for a low cost. Yet it does not sacrifice security.

“Most competitors are selling products that are actually built in China, whereas we build everything in Woodstock, Illinois,” Conley said. “You don’t have to worry about the device hitting foreign servers as that can be sensitive at times; and along with that, all of our tech support is local too. It can be frustrating at times when customer support teams are outsourced, but that is not the case with LandAirSea.”

While criminals are tricky and constantly evolving, fleet owners can stay ahead of them with LandAirSea.

Find out more about protecting your fleet with LandAirSea here.

The post Malibu trailer theft reminder of vulnerability of carriers’ assets appeared first on FreightWaves.

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