Common cargo theft strategies and mitigation techniques

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Criminals involved in cargo theft are sophisticated and agile, constantly shifting their tactics to reduce apprehension risks and increase success chances. This episode explores some of the prominent theft strategies employed globally, how they work in practice, and how stakeholders in the supply chain can identify red flags and mitigate exposure risks.

Round the corner theft

In this deception tactic, thieves impersonate company employees and deceive drivers into diverting cargo to a new location or transferring loads into unauthorised vehicles. Awareness, training, and vigilance are key to mitigating this risk. Drivers should:

  1. Be wary of requests to divert to a different destination
  2. Verify requests by contacting their transport office
  3. Recognise potential red flags, such as unusual cover stories or improper uniforms

Romanian rollover

This high-risk manoeuvre involves criminals climbing onto a moving truck and breaking open the trailer lock to steal cargo. While rare, it requires a coordinated team effort and extreme risk-taking. Drivers should remain vigilant for being boxed in by other vehicles and report any suspicions immediately.

Staged accidents

Criminals may intentionally cause minor accidents with trucks to bring them to a halt, then attempt to steal cargo or the entire truck when the driver reacts. Drivers should exercise caution, avoid stopping in isolated areas, and report any concerns to authorities.

Blue light crime and impersonation

Corrupt officials or criminals with fake police vehicles may use blue lights to stop trucks, distract drivers, and access cargo. Drivers should verify the authenticity of officers, request identification, and only stop in well-lit public areas if safe.

Depot and trailer hookup thefts

Criminals may gain access to loaded trailers parked in depots or truck stops and steal the trailer and cargo. Mitigation techniques include:

  1. Securing trailers with locks, kingpin locks, and alarms
  2. Planning routes and secure parking in advance
  3. Avoiding recognisable patterns and disclosing cargo information
  4. Implementing robust access control procedures at depots


Implementing training, security measures, and robust processes is essential for organisations to recognise, quantify, and mitigate cargo theft risks. Secure truck parking remains a challenge, and stakeholders must collaborate to address this issue proactively.

Mike Yarwood

TT Club

David Thompson

Signum Services