Author: Jay Krishnan, Vice President, Automile

As a business owner/fleet manager managing vehicles and drivers, this is a common concern. But unfortunately, vehicle and cargo losses are a fact of life. They’re also among the most costly property crimes. Consider the most recent statistics from FBI and NICB…

  • There were an estimated 699,594 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2013—and more than $4.1 billion was lost. (FBI)
  • Close to $1 billion a year is lost nationwide due to the theft of construction equipment and tools. (NICB’s 2013 Equipment Theft Report)
  • There were 547 incidents of cargo theft reported to law enforcement in 2014—and the stolen cargo was worth more than $32.5 million. (FBI)

So what can you do to avoid unauthorized use or thefts of your company’s vehicles? Here are three best practices from the pros:

1. Take Precautions

A cargo truck containing construction supplies and equipment was unintentionally left unlocked overnight—and a crafty criminal on a late-night patrol steals the whole lot.

Practice common sense – sometimes the first line of defense makes all the difference. That means drivers should always lock all vehicle doors, remove the keys from the ignition, roll up windows, park in well-lit areas, and take mental note of where they parked—and who might be lurking in the shadows.

Go the distance – putting visible or audible devices in your vehicles can help keep thieves away. When they see steering column collars, theft deterrent decals, or signs of an alarm system, they’ll likely move along to a softer target.

Track your assets – use technology to prevent your valuable items from getting stolen, damaged, or moved without your knowledge. For example, Automile’s AnyTrack (which is currently in beta) is a small security device that tracks an asset (cars, trailers, equipment, boats, etc.) and notifies you via email or text if it’s moved.

And by all means, immediately report any and all vehicle theft activities to law enforcement agencies.

2. Track Your Vehicles

A delivery van was parked in its space when you left the office—but it’s nowhere to be seen when you return the next the morning (and it’s not out on delivery!).

Assuming you’ve got your common sense precautions covered, get into the mind of the thieves—if just for a moment. It’s important to know that some car criminals hang around at truck stops and often break seals on trailers until they find something they’d like. Others track carrier vans’ arrival and departure times to/from storefronts or shipper facilities—or even follow vehicles to uncover route patterns or customer locations—so they know when to pounce. The point? Know where your vehicles are most vulnerable…and keep tabs on them!

If your best attempts fail and a vehicle is lost or stolen, give yourself piece of mind. A tracking system like Automile gives you precise and accurate location of a particular vehicle at a specific moment—in real-time. If you notice a vehicle is missing or are questioning its whereabouts, you can locate it right away; through geofencing technology, you can set up a geographical area for a vehicle so that you’re alerted as soon as it passes a boundary. Whatever happens, you’re prepared to take appropriate action, whether that’s contacting the driver or sharing your valuable information with police.

3. Keep Your Drivers Compliant – Educate them!

An employee borrows the company van to haul the contents of their friend’s apartment to their new digs—and accidentally damages the vehicle in the process. 

Losses can occur even when people have the best of intentions. It’s important for your business to have policies and guidelines surrounding vehicle use—so communicate them. Your employees should always know what’s expected of them and what to do if they have concerns, feedback, or want to ask a question like, “Can I borrow the van to help my friend move this weekend?” And just maybe, they’ll know the answer before even considering it!

A final word to the wise: safety! Security and safety often go hand and hand, so maintaining driver and vehicle safety should be an ongoing goal. If you’re not so sure, read Should Fleet Safety Be One of Your Top Business Priorities? and you’ll soon agree.

 

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