We Urge Your Company to Take Proactive Measures
by Patricia Kotze
California has the highest rate of cargo theft in the nation with a frightening increase in armed robberies, warehouse theft, and truck hijackings occurring throughout the state. According to Diversified Risk Management, Inc. (DRM, Inc.), a Southern California workplace investigation firm, many of these incidents are “inside jobs.” Law enforcement and insurance industry officials estimate that cargo theft costs the U.S. shipping industry over $30 billion per year with most incidents occurring in the fourth quarter of the year. The port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the largest in the US, is at risk for shipping losses as thieves shift into high gear. Thefts are such a great threat that the FBI recently issued an alert last week on this growing crime*.
“Over the past decade, cargo theft has risen dramatically but it’s never been as high as it is now,” says Patricia Kotze, Managing Partner and Senior Executive Investigator for DRM, Inc. To off-set millions of dollars in potential losses, Ms. Kotze recommends executives in manufacturing and shipping industries immediately take some definitive action to protect their firms from theft.
“Cargo typically disappears from the truck somewhere between the distribution facility and the final destination,” says Ms. Kotze. “In our investigations, we have found that either there is an inside connection at the shipping department feeding valuable information to the hijackers, or the freight truck driver is working independently with the criminals. It’s very rare for hijackers or burglars to approach a truck without already knowing what’s onboard. The type of merchandise targeted for theft typically includes recyclable metals, pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, clothing, building supplies, cigarettes, or food.”
“Before cargo theft occurs, before loads are targeted, we recommend companies perform due diligence through employment background checks. They especially should demand that their Temp Agency conduct both criminal background checks and drug tests on temporary employees as these workers could pose a risk of infecting the company’s employees.”
“Additionally, distribution and trucking centers should hire a competent investigation firm to place undercover workers on their shipping docks and inside warehouses that are at risk. Undercover workers can observe employees’ work habits from the inside and document any misconduct. By taking preventative action, those participating in these crimes can be stopped in time to recover some or all of the stolen cargo.”
Through its investigations into crimes committed in the workplace, DRM, Inc. has broken up numerous theft rings accounting for millions of dollars in stolen merchandise. Often, these crimes had been going on for years, undetected. In many cases, they have been instrumental in bringing criminal charges against unscrupulous businesses buying stolen cargo below wholesale prices and have recovered large civil damages for companies.”
“With Los Angeles’ Alameda Corridor being one of the most highly-traveled trucking routes, there’s a huge potential for cargo theft,” says Ramos. “By initiating pre-holiday investigations, employers can determine whether there is a problem within their operations in time to prevent huge losses during the fourth quarter of 2010 and ensure operations run smoothly at the most vulnerable time of year, the Holiday Season.”
Diversified Risk Management, Inc. is a Los Angeles corporate investigation firm that assists companies of all kinds, and the attorneys who serve them, in identifying, responding, and mitigating risk through comprehensive and integrated professional service offerings.
DRM, Inc. is known for solving complex business problems, reducing risk and improving profits for clients across the nation and beyond.
*Investigation statistics taken from an FBI report on cargo theft.
About the Author
Patricia Kotze is a senior shareholder and co-founder of Diversified Risk Management, Inc. and oversees operations for the investigation firm and its two subsidiaries, Employers Choice Online and Compliance Training Group, headquartered in Downey, California.
Ms. Kotze has nearly twenty-five years experience conducting workplace investigations, consulting and employee workplace training. Ms. Kotze has worked as a senior executive investigator and consultant on thousands of embezzlement, theft, fraud and other cases involving the entire scope of illegal activity perpetrated within the employment environment, exclusively serving employers and the legal counsel for employers.
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