Magazine Article | March 1, 2013

How To Avoid Pharma/Bio Cargo Theft

Source: Life Science Leader

By JJ Coughlin, VP, LoJack SCI

If your job is even remotely related to the transport of your company’s pharmaceutical or biologics products, you need to be familiar with the Supply Chain-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (SC-ISAC). That’s because this organization has been collecting and analyzing cargo-theft data for industries just like yours since 2005. And don’t be naive — thieves are targeting your products.

What you need to do is use the insights gleaned from the SC-ISAC’s data to better understand how cargo is targeted and then drive that awareness to your logistic providers. Having such a proactive, preventative approach to your supply-chain logistics is essential to avoiding the costly recovery fees associated with stolen product and equipment.

What To Know Regarding Cargo Theft
One of the first valuable pieces of information to know about cargo theft is where it most commonly occurs. For instance, when we look at the past three years of the SC-ISAC Cargo Theft reports, we see that the top states for these thefts include California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and Georgia with Pennsylvania and Illinois occasionally entering the top five. When you dig a little deeper into the research, you find that the type of location involved in each particular theft includes truck stops, carrier facilities, lots, yards, and streets. And in almost every case at each location type, the thieves are waiting for the opportunity when the loaded vehicle is left unattended.

It’s also beneficial for logistics professionals to know when cargo thefts are likely to happen. The SC-ISAC’s results continuously show that the majority of cargo crime occurs on weekends, especially on three-day weekends. If you add in Monday and Friday, statistics show about 70% of cargo crime happens during that part of the week.

Working with law enforcement, especially with the current cargo task forces and officers assigned to cargo crime investigations, we have come up with the following list of groups who target the industry:

  1. organized cargo theft crews — full truckload
  2. organized cargo theft crews — fraudulent pickup
  3. opportunistic cargo thieves
  4. high-value warehouse burglary
  5. truck-stop crime

Although there is some overlay in how the groups operate, these are the main organized and loosely organized groups who target freight in-transit.

Key Components Of Your Logistics/ Transportation Department
Knowing all of this information and recognizing that the pharma/bio products you distribute are a target of cargo thieves is just the first step. Next, you need to determine if your logistics providers or internal transportation departments are aware of the risks and are organized to prevent — and if necessary — react. Some of the things you should consider include:

  1. Do your transportation and logistics providers have a security function, including a written security/recovery plan for in-transit and warehouse operations?
  2. Do they have a dedicated security department or manager?
  3. How do they select their carriers, and do they require their carriers to meet any minimum security/ insurance requirements?
  4. If transportation brokers are used, what requirements are being used for the vetting of the carriers for your account?
  5. Do they have specific guidelines to fully protect in-transit freight on the weekends, including dropped trailers and unattended loads?

These are all very important issues when dealing with the loss of a load. Establishing prevention protocols and maintaining a visibility of the shipment from origin to destination are the best policies. If these fail, history tells us that when a full-load theft occurs, you have a limited amount of time to recover the cargo. The equipment is usually recovered within a few days of the crime, but the cargo is a different story. Having the correct business partners operating with contractually defined security requirements can make all the difference when an incident occurs. If you received a call right now that a theft had occurred, would you be ready to act, and do you have all of the information and resources you need to have a chance to recover?