Skip to main content
Trucker loading a pallet of goods into an empty cargo truck
Trucking fleet

How to protect your fleet from cargo theft

April 1, 2024

The fleet industry has faced its fair share of challenges in recent years – from fluctuating fuel prices to lingering supply chain disruptions. But one issue in particular is seeing a spike – cargo theft. 

Cargo theft has been rattling the fleet industry nationwide. In 2023, freight security network, CargoNet, reported a 59% increase in cargo theft incidents compared to the previous year. They reported that over $31 million worth of goods were stolen.

The FBI also estimates that cargo theft costs trucking companies and retailers anywhere from $15 billion to $30 billion a year.

A map of the U.S. depicting seven cities that are experiencing a surge in cargo theft. The cities include: Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis, Houston, Miami, Savannah, and Newark.

While cargo thieves tend to target larger freight and transportation vehicles, fleets of all sizes are still vulnerable to theft. The report identifies warehouses, distribution centers, and truck stops as the top targeted locations for theft.

So whether you operate a delivery service, transportation company, or any business reliant on transporting goods, protecting your assets against theft should be a priority. 

Here are seven simple, yet effective strategies that may significantly reduce the risk of cargo theft and protect your fleet from potential threats.

1. Invest in better security measures

Equip your vehicle with state-of-the-art security systems such as: 

  • Alarm systems: They are designed to detect unauthorized entry or tampering with your vehicle. They typically consist of sensors placed on doors, windows, and other entry points, which trigger a loud siren or horn when activated. This loud alert not only deters thieves but also alerts nearby individuals to potential criminal activity, increasing the likelihood of intervention or apprehension. Modern alarm systems may also come equipped with features such as remote arming/disarming and smartphone notifications, allowing you to stay connected and in control of your vehicle’s security at all times.
  • Access controls: They help enhance gate security and regulate access within truck yards or storage facilities, so only authorized drivers gain access to cargo.

2. Use background checks and security training to protect your employees 

Trustworthy drivers and security protocols are essential to ensuring the safety and security of your vehicles. Other things you should consider are:

  • Conducting thorough background checks: They should be conducted not only during the initial driver hiring process but also periodically throughout an employee’s time with your company. Regular screenings could help ensure that drivers maintain their trustworthiness and remain in compliance with company policies and industry regulations. Also consider implementing drug and alcohol testing programs to avoid risks associated with impaired driving.
  • Training on security protocols: Emphasize the importance of vigilance and situational awareness while on the road, encouraging drivers to remain alert to their surroundings and report any unusual or concerning activities immediately. 
  • Educating your drivers to recognize suspicious behavior: Teach them to recognize indicators such as loitering near the vehicle, attempts to access the vehicle, or erratic behavior. Drivers should trust their instincts and err on the side of caution when confronted with potentially threatening situations.
  • Teaching them theft response strategies: Safety is the top priority, so encourage your drivers to prioritize their personal safety and avoid confrontation whenever possible, while cooperating with law enforcement and providing information to aid in recovery efforts.
  • Encourage open communication and reporting: Open communication channels between drivers, dispatchers, fleet managers, and security personnel are especially important for staying up to date on any challenges and safety concerns. 

3. Use secure parking and storage facilities

Your drivers should park in secure areas with surveillance cameras whenever possible. If you own your storage facility or parking area, make sure to install enough lighting and surveillance cameras to discourage criminal activity. The safest storage areas should be securely locked and preferably gated. 

When instructing your drivers to stop at a truck stop, stress the importance of always locking their vehicles and carrying the key with them when stepping away from their vehicle. For overnight parking, advise them to choose well-lit, heavily trafficked areas with enough surveillance and pedestrian presence.

4. Optimize routes to avoid problem areas

Using a route planning software to create delivery routes can allow you to monitor your vehicle in real-time and avoid high risk areas known for cargo theft. Monitor your vehicles to ensure they adhere to planned routes and schedules. Leverage available tools and software that give you more control and information while drivers are en route.

5. Conduct regular maintenance and inspections

Regular vehicle maintenance is an important part of fleet safety. Implementing a proactive maintenance schedule ensures that trucks are in good condition, reducing the risk of breakdowns and accidents. Also make sure your drivers have a system for reporting vehicle issues before they become a problem. Inspect trailers and cargo containers for signs of tampering or unauthorized entry before each trip.

6. Invest in insurance coverage that meets your business needs

Insurance coverage is a fundamental part of operating a business with a fleet of vehicles, especially when it comes to protecting against the threat of cargo theft. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an insurance plan: 

  • Comprehensive coverage: This type of coverage typically includes non-collisions events such as theft, vandalism, hijacking, and other forms of criminal activity that may result in the loss or damage of cargo during transit. Review insurance policies carefully to understand the scope of coverage, including any limitations, deductibles, and exclusions that may apply. 
  • Tailor your policy: Work with your insurance provider to customize insurance policies to meet the unique needs of your business. Tailored policies may take into account factors such as:
    • Type of cargo being transported
    • Value of goods at risk
    • Shipment frequency and distance
    • Geographic regions served
  • Regularly review your policy: As your business grows or diversifies its operations, your insurance needs may change accordingly. Meet with your insurance provider periodically to assess the adequacy of your coverage, identify any gaps, and explore options for enhancing protection through additional coverage.
  • Additional coverage options: These may include specialized policies for high-value cargo, coverage for goods in transit across international borders, or coverage for specific types of cargo susceptible to theft, such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, or luxury goods. Evaluate the cost-benefit of additional coverage options based on the value of goods at risk and the potential financial impact of cargo theft on your business.

7. Listen and learn from your community

Your community can help spread awareness for potential threats and be an added layer of protection on the road. Share information and collaborate with other businesses and law enforcement agencies to stay informed about any emerging threats. 

Many communities have online portals, email newsletters, or apps where members share information or report suspicious activity. Whether it’s forming neighborhood watch groups, participating in community events, or volunteering for local initiatives, building relationships within your community can create a resilient support system that not only protects your business but also strengthens the fabric of the entire community.

Learn more on how to better manage your over-the-road fleet:

To learn more about WEX, a growing and global organization, please visit

All fleet cards are not the same, and different types of fuel cards suit the needs of different kinds and sizes of businesses. View WEX’s fleet card comparison chart to see which fleet fuel card is right for you.

Apply for a fleet card today!


Stay connected

Subscribe to our Inside WEX blog and follow us on social media for the insider view on everything WEX, from payments innovation to what it means to be a WEXer.

"*" indicates required fields

Find out how WEX can help grow your business