Cargo theft is a centuries-old problem that brings trouble to many who transport goods and equipment from one part of the country to another. This type of crime has greatly evolved along with the methods the cargo is being transported, from horse-drawn carriages to trucks and trailers. And thieves are also becoming more organized as they now use more sophisticated tools and equipment than ever before.

We can’t predict when cargo thieves will strike. However, having some background information on how they operate and knowing some crucial hotshot tips can help you avoid them. 

Most Commonly Stolen Items

  • Food and drinks
  • Household items
  • Cigarettes
  • Computers and electronics 
  • Vehicles and accessories
  • Building materials
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical products

Where Cargo Theft Normally Happens

Cargo theft can happen anytime and anywhere but more frequently, they occur when your trailer is unattended and is in an unsecured location. There are also many reported cases at rest stops and truck stops. Moreover, many cargo thefts happen on weekends or long holidays. 

When an incident happens, it is usually one of two ways:

  1. Your entire trailer is stolen along with its contents.
  2. Only the contents are taken.

Tips to Avoid Cargo Theft


1. Familiarize basic safety strategies for cargo theft.

If you are a business owner, educate your drivers and other employees about basic security strategies to mitigate cargo theft. The same is true if you are owner-operator. If you are in the hotshot business, you should be familiar with the measures to take to avoid cargo theft as well as the course of action if confronted with the situation. 

2. Be watchful during loading and unloading.

This is especially true if you are transporting high value or targeted cargo. Some thieves also follow trucks and trailers after leaving the shipper and attack as soon as the driver stops to rest or refuel. It is recommended to fuel before loading the cargo and then driving a significant distance of at least 200 miles before stopping. Most thieves will not go this distance to follow you. 

3. Be extra vigilant while in a place with the most recorded cargo thefts.

The states with the most number of cargo theft cases reported include California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois and Georgia. 

4. Prioritize security.

More than anything else, your safety and security should be your top priority. Make use of available tools and equipment such as reliable padlocks, GPS tracking devices and other products designed for security. If you are transporting high-value cargo, consider installing a tracking device on your trailer and cargo as it can increase your chances of locating them if stolen. 

5. Do not stop in hot spots.

When you plan your trip, identify potential hot spots or high crime rate areas. Plan how you will navigate the place. Generally, it would be safe to drive in these places during daytime. If possible, do not stop in hot spots.

6. Avoid unsecured truck stops.

According to FreightWatch, 75% of all cargo thefts happen in unsecured parking areas. Where you park can make a big difference in terms of safety and risk of theft. Only park in well-lit areas in a secured truck stop. If there are security cameras, park in their field of view for added security.

7. Do not discuss your freight with strangers.

Be careful about sharing information about your cargo and where you are headed. This extends to your social media posts or CB chatter. Thieves are always looking for valuable information, don’t give this away so easily. 

8. Be aware of your situation at all times.

Whether your trailer is moving or not moving, be aware of your situation and surroundings. Use your instinct to know if someone is following you. If in doubt, find a safe location to park and then communicate with your company and law enforcement agency to help you assess the best action for your situation. 


Cargo theft is a serious matter. As thieves are becoming highly sophisticated, you should also do your part to mitigate your risks. Being cautious, alert, communicative and knowledgeable of the abovementioned tips can reduce your chances of becoming their next victim.