TT Talk - Supply chain security animations

Bolt crop cutting a padlock on a depot fence

Supply chain security is a vital consideration for actors in the global supply chain, regardless of where they are operating or the  nature of their contractual obligations. Security throughout the supply chain has become essential through regulation as much as meeting customer expectations in the protection of their goods and reputation.

As TT reports evidence, criminals continue to infiltrate the supply chain with increasing ingenuity, accessing cargo with relative ease and impunity. The means at their disposal, the lengths they are prepared to go and the strategies they employ differ geographically. However, one certainty is that freight crime pays and this motivates criminals to continue their activities, with them constantly striving to identify and profile low risk high value targets. Where a particular strategy meets with success, it is often used again and in other locations, creating a dynamic risk landscape.

One certainty is that freight crime pays.

Educating operational personnel to understand the commonly adopted strategies and how they might identify the associated risks is critical to mitigating the risks and avoiding losses. Being able to recognise a particular set of events unfolding at an early stage, may afford the opportunity to intervene, changing the outcome and additionally alerting the relevant authorities. 

Common security threats

TT’s claims experience has contributed to the development of a deep understanding of the commonly adopted strategies. Consequently, to assist raising awareness and the education process, TT has developed a dedicated Supply Chain Security webpage that hosts a variety of practical loss prevention guidance for those in the global supply chain. The content on the webpage continues to develop providing details of the latest trends and relevant, practical mitigation guidance. 

Inevitably, technology and opportunities continue to evolve at speed, with criminals being adept and agile in order to realise their goals. As devices decrease in size and cost, they become more accessible and useful. For example, criminals have long been able to jam signals of GPS security equipment, rendering the technology useless, but a recent case identified that the criminals were fully exploiting GPS devices themselves; with the assistance of an insider asset, a tracking device was fitted to a target trailer, providing the criminals with a live view of the location of the target goods.

While technology can assist the criminal fraternity, data suggest that they will typically follow the path of least resistance. While it might be possible to purchase a GPS device, recruit an insider and convince them to place the device on a trailer, the risks of apprehension increase significantly. Many common strategies present lower risks, have stood the test of time, and are therefore far more likely to be adopted, facilitating access to cargo. 

While technology can assist the criminal fraternity, data suggest that they will typically follow the path of least resistance.

In a new initiative, TT teamed up with FDG to develop a series of cargo theft animations, bringing the commonly used criminal strategies to life. The aim to illustrate how security vulnerabilities can lead to exposures and provide guidance to improve practices.

Awareness to preparedness

Criminals are typically well versed in operational activity and, having carefully profiled their target, are adequately prepared to strike successfully. As the animations illustrate, many of the actions criminals use are unsophisticated, taking advantage of operational vulnerabilities, such as lax key control or poor physical security at depots.

Driver training and awareness are key components in building strong defences, since the greatest threat exposure globally is during road transit. Round the corner theft is a strategy that has been employed by criminals for decades, yet still drivers are duped by individuals posing as a representative of the consignee. The value of the stolen cargo aside, such cases can become complex and costly to defend. The cargo is very rarely recovered, despite the drivers’ knowledge of the delivery location, as it is often immediately loaded aboard another vehicle and relocated. 

The value of the stolen cargo aside, such cases can become complex and costly to defend.

It might be several hours or even days before an issue with a particular delivery is raised, giving ample time for the criminals to move the cargo – besides, police investigation into freight crime is not always prioritised. Robust reporting procedures and simple processes requesting verification of new instructions from a known contact can mitigate this risk entirely.

The animations also highlight one of the more dangerous and elaborate strategies employed by criminals – the ‘Romanian roll over’. Akin to something from a movie, the target in these cases is a moving truck. Vehicles are strategically positioned around the truck to influence its speed and direction of travel. Criminals then access the cargo space while the truck remains in motion. If the activity is undetected by the driver, the missing security seal and cargo at the point of delivery is extremely difficult to explain.

The aim of the animation series is to raise awareness of the common strategies employed by criminals in accessing cargo in an engaging way. Empowering operational personnel to identify potential risks at an early stage and providing a window of opportunity to take evasive action can prevent incidents of cargo theft. That’s good news for you, your customer, any insurers and wider society.


We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director, TT Club


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Mike Yarwood

TT Club