Industry Watchdog and Stupid Thieves

Many a man is saved from being a thief by finding everything locked up.~ Edgar Watson Howe

Opportunity makes a thief. ~ Francis Bacon

freight theftI am an active member of several industry watchdog organizations that work to support upstanding carriers and eliminate those who give their colleagues a bad name. Recently, I learned about a scam that has been occurring with increasing regularity.

As most of you are aware, shippers will often place a numbered seal on the handle of the trailer door. The seal number is recorded on the bill of lading. If the trailer arrives at the consignee with the seal “intact” we are confident that the freight could not have been touched by the carrier. Unfortunately, crafty thieves manage to find ways to beat the system:

Dishonest carriers have discovered that if they reverse the bolt/nut configurations of the trailer door hardware (orienting the nut placement to the outside of the trailer), they can remove the latch from one trailer door while still leaving the seal intact. This allows a dishonest carrier to put more freight on the truck without the shipper’s knowledge. Some have been so brazen as to steal some of the freight.

seal freight theft scamThis, of course, leads to an increase in shortages and freight damage claims which the carriers and their insurance companies deny due to an apparently intact seal. Please share this photo (which shows an ‘illegal’ reversed bolt/nut configuration) with employees who are responsible for loading or unloading trailers. Inspecting door hardware should be incorporated into their screening of cargo security.

Although there’s nothing more frustrating than being outsmarted by a thief, it’s pretty amusing to hear stories about the not-so-smart ones. Here are a few who have become internet legends:

•Charles Taylor was arrested for robbing a shoe store at knifepoint and stealing a $69 pair of size 10 1/2 tan hiking boots. He wore the boots to his trial 3 months later.

•George Cummings, Jr. was charged with attempted robbery in connection with a purse-snatching at a shopping center. During the trial, Cummings chose to act as his own attorney. While cross-examining the victim, Cummings asked, “Did you get a good look at my face when I took your purse?”

•Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun, but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket.

•A man walked into a Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? $15.

And this, my all-time favorite:

In Seattle, police were called to a scene to find a very ill man curled up next to a motor-home. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline by siphoning it from the RV, but he mistakenly plugged the hose into the RV’s sewage tank instead. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had.

Play it smart this weekend,