Investing in Theft Prevention Pays Dividends: Anti-Theft Tips from Samsara

July 15, 2020

Theft is on the rise across North America due in large part to the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, CargoNet reports that there was a 300% year-over-year increase in cargo theft in April 2020 alone. Furthermore, transportation and logistics fleets in Mexico expect cargo theft to rise more than 50% due to COVID-19.

With this in mind, many fleets are wondering how to protect against cargo and asset theft in order to avoid disruptions to their supply chains, and monetary losses. Read on to learn about a few common security challenges and our tips to protect your assets and prevent theft with Samsara. 

Common fleet security challenges 

In order to assess the best approach to preventing theft, it’s important to understand the most common security challenges that your fleet may face. 

  1. Cargo Theft: Because most cargo inventory can sell quickly on the secondary market, fleets that transport common goods are top targets for thieves. Without cargo or asset monitoring in place, thieves can break into trailers undetected. The average cargo theft costs about $80,000 in North Americacan also cause delivery delays and increase your insurance premiums.

  2. Fuel theft: With more drivers on the road transporting essential goods, instances of fuel theft or card skimming can add up quickly. Without accurate GPS locations of where drivers fill up their tanks, it can be difficult to detect fuel theft and track down where cards were skimmed or tanks were overfilled. 

  3. Hijackings: A recent report found that violent hijackings accounted for 26% of cargo theft globally in 2019. Hijackings can also be incredibly dangerous for your drivers on the road, especially if they can’t easily communicate with your fleet’s central dispatch during an emergency.

  4. Stolen vehicle or asset recovery: Once vehicles or assets are stolen, it can be a challenge to track them down if they are not equipped with GPS tracking devices. With the average cost of a new tractor trailer clocking in at around $150,000, it’s important to have a way to locate and recover lost or stolen trailers in order to avoid replacement costs. 

6 tips to prevent and respond to theft 

The best way to protect your fleet against theft is to invest in theft prevention technologies that enable you to take back control of dangerous or costly situations. With real-time visibility into where your vehicles and assets are located as well as tools to help you react to emergencies in real-time, your fleet will be more prepared to respond to theft. 

Here’s how you can leverage Samsara’s hardware and cloud solutions to protect your assets and reduce theft-related costs: 

1. Prevent asset theft with automatic alerts 

In order to minimize the costs related to asset theft, you need to be able to immediately respond to theft or suspicious activity. To do this, you need to ensure your assets are secured in a safe location. With Samsara Geofences, you can easily outline areas where vehicles are kept—such as a parking lot or job site—and configure alerts so that you are automatically notified when vehicles or assets leave a predetermined area.

Blue Horizon Energy, a full-service solar project developer based in Minneapolis, recovered $10,000 worth of a stolen trailer and its contents after using Samsara’s GPS tracking to track down the exact location of their trailer. 

2. Monitor fuel theft and fraud 

In order to prevent fuel theft, it’s important to have a telematics system in place to track GPS locations and fuel data for all of your vehicles. With telematics, you can pinpoint exact fueling locations or monitor fuel usage in order to identify possible theft or fraud. 

To track where fuel purchases were made, you can set up Samsara Geofences around approved gas stations and configure alerts to automatically notify you when a fuel transaction is made in an unknown area. 

You can also configure Samsara Capacity Alerts to get notified when the amount of gas pumped into a vehicle at one time exceeds the tank capacity limit. Samsara’s Fuel Purchase Reports can also be leveraged to see whether an authorized vehicle made a fuel transaction in your fleet. Pairing fuel tank capacity data with fuel purchase data can help your fleet crack down on instances of skimming—a difficult to detect form of fraud that replaces a credit card scanner with a skimming device that electronically captures cardholder data. 

3. Keep a close eye on cargo with monitoring and GPS tracking tools

Detecting missing cargo can be difficult especially during busy periods when you have several trailers or containers actively transporting cargo. In addition, with cargo often thousands of miles away from your central dispatch office, it’s tough to have remote visibility into the security of your assets. 

During these critical times, you need more than just GPS location tracking. With the Samsara Wireless Cargo Monitor, you can get full visibility into your cargo. Use the monitor’s infrared sensor to detect when cargo is loaded or unloaded in order to increase security and detect possible theft. 

Similarly, you can use the Samsara Wireless Door Monitor to detect when trailer or container doors open and close for added security and protection. Door monitors paired with cargo monitors can help you detect not only if a door has been tampered with, but also whether or not your trailer has been emptied, so that you know whether or not a load has been lost. 

4. Use the Panic Button to alert your office of an emergency  

To protect against more dangerous types of theft, like hijackings, it’s critical that drivers have a fast way of discreetly communicating with your central office. The Samsara Panic Button does exactly this: it alerts dispatch to an emergency situation and provides critical information to aid assistance, including the driver’s exact location and video footage (for customers equipped with a Samsara AI Dash Cam). The alert contains the exact GPS coordinates of the vehicle, allowing managers to take action with law enforcement and save precious time in an emergency. 

5. React to theft in real time with the Engine Immobilizer 

In the event of a vehicle theft in progress, you can utilize the Samsara Engine Immobilizer to remotely disable or enable the ignition of any vehicle from your Samsara dashboard. When installed and activated, the Engine Immobilizer will not allow the engine to start, preventing the vehicle from moving. With just a few clicks, you can help prevent a theft from occurring in real time to keep your drivers and cargo safe.   

6. Help law enforcement solve thefts with AI dash cams 

Without video footage of thefts, law enforcement can have a difficult time identifying thieves and recovering stolen goods. Luckily, with high quality video footage from Samsara AI Dash Cams, not only can local law enforcement solve crimes quicker but video proof of an incident can also accelerate insurance payouts so you can recoup losses faster.  

One of our California-based customers recently experienced a theft of one of their buses while it was unoccupied in a parking lot. Thankfully, they were able to pair footage from the vehicle’s Samsara Dash Cam with GPS coordinates to quickly track down the stolen vehicle—even before the police could find it.

Protecting your fleet for the future 

We value everything our customers do to maintain critical infrastructure and services during this unprecedented time. To support you, we are offering free trials to those who are looking to bolster their risk management plans. Please reach out to your Samsara customer success representative if you are interested—we are here to help. 

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