Technology in today's world has radically changed the threats that companies face. In the transportation industry, technology is increasingly used by cargo thieves when they break into shipping containers. While an amateur will crudely force his way into a trailer or container, the professional ring will want to conceal as much as possible about when, where, and how the theft occurred. The cargo seal thus becomes a necessary target, because it is the easiest way for a shipper to identify when and where his cargo has been tampered with. A few highly skilled career criminals can separate the traditional cargo seal and re-install it with a soldering gun. But now, unskilled thieves have begun to use 3D printing to replicate seals.
Shippers naturally devote significant resources to protect against these evolving technological threats. But another (and possibly more dangerous) hack that shippers need to guard against is not technology driven: it's a good old-fashioned hack with drills and hammers. Rather than bother with trying to re-create or duplicate the seal once it's broken, thieves are simply taking the door off its hinges or removing the handle with the seal intact.
Security experts now openly acknowledge how easy it is for a thief to open a trailer or ocean container without breaking the seal. All it takes is a drill, some rivets, and a little paint. The thief drills through the rivets on the handle to gain easy access to the goods. Once he's done pilfering the container's contents, it's just a matter of putting the handle back into place with new rivets and painting over it to cover any trace of foul play. It has become a common form of theft plaguing the transportation industry.
This low-tech hack leaves the shipper at a loss when trying to find out where the theft occurred and, equally as important, who will be on the hook for the loss. And if the shipper can't pass that loss on to a carrier, he may be out of luck with his insurance company, too. If the goods weren't lost, and there's no sign of a broken seal, the insurance company may very well say that it is not responsible for paying for the loss.
There are some preventative measures that a shipper can take to help discourage thieves. High security seals and GPS monitoring, for example, may be worthwhile precautionary measures for high value cargo.
Another precaution may also be to place a temperature recorder inside the container. The instrument records specific dates and times when the ambient air inside the cargo container changes. Thus, if the doors to a container are removed during shipment, the shipper has some evidence to demonstrate when and where the tampering occurred—and indeed, that the tampering occurred while the cargo was in the carrier's possession.
Loading dock personnel should be instructed to look carefully at seals and doors before opening the trailer or container. And, at the end of the day, a reliable carrier with a good security program may be one of the best protections.