Encourage drivers to keep windows closed at all times. It is a wiser investment to pay for air conditioning than replacing pricey equipment. AC will also enhance vehicle resale. - Photo: Getty Images

Encourage drivers to keep windows closed at all times. It is a wiser investment to pay for air conditioning than replacing pricey equipment. AC will also enhance vehicle resale.

Photo: Getty Images

If you think vehicle break-in is a huge problem for fleet managers, you’re right. Cargo theft still remains a major problem when maintaining a fleet budget.

What’s the solution? Staying out of high-crime areas? Hiring an army of rent-a-cops? Sometimes, these are not realistic solutions to a very real problem. Real answers lie in facing potential cargo security problems by taking preventive steps to minimize risk.

Here is a checklist of ways to see if you are presenting an irresistible target for thieves or if you are making it harder for them to accomplish their thieving pursuits.

1. Don’t Tempt Thieves

Why hold up a flag alerting would-be thieves that you are carrying valuable cargo? Vehicles painted with elaborate logos and fancy colors are like moving advertisements for thieves.

2. Consider Theft Alarm Systems

In most states, insurance companies give discounts to vehicles equipped with passive alarm systems. Finding a high-quality, competitively-price alarm system should not be a problem.

3. Drive with the Doors Locked

Carjackers can enter an unlocked door in a split-second while a vehicle is at a stop light. Minimize this risk by keeping your doors locked at all times.

4. Invest in a FOB Lock System

It is easy to forget to lock up when lugging heavy equipment or thinking about the tough job ahead. Purchasing vehicles with a keyless FOB entry transmitter is a great way to ensure vehicles are automatically locked as soon as the driver leaves the vehicle. The small FOB transmitter can be carried in-pocket.

5. Lock Up Those Tools

Utility boxes are great for tool storage. They are also perfectly compact, takeaway packages of valuable goodies for thieves. Make sure to padlock all bin covers and doors. Storage systems like those offered by Jemrack Inc. are excellent ways to secure items to the vehicle while making it impossible for thieves to walk away with a box full of expensive tools.

6. Keep the Windows Closed

Encourage drivers to keep windows closed at all times. It is a wiser investment to pay for air conditioning than replacing pricey equipment. AC will also enhance vehicle resale.

7. Tool Storage Security for Pickup Trucks

Cargobody units offer 210 cu. ft. of interior storage capacity while larger models can accommodate 300 cu. ft of interior storage capacity. All Cargobody products can be universally mounted to any standard 6.5-ft. or 8-ft. domestic pickup bed. These storage units are excellent choices for maximum tool security on open-bed trucks.

8. Consder Sliding-Door Compartments

Sliding interior doors are a godsend for valuables. The drawers slide rearward from the vehicle for easy access and conceal items when closed. Joey Bed cargo pull-out drawers allow for maximum space with easy maneuverability. Load ranges are from 200-2,000 lbs. Joey Beds are manufactured in several lengths, widths, and styles to fit the particular storage and security needs of any fleet.

9. Install Van Shelving and Bins

Service vans are tempting targets; shelving and bins organize what is carried and reduce visibility from the outside.

10. Avoid Bad Delivery Times

Schedule deliveries during business hours in high-crime areas, and make sure customers are ready to receive them. Local police can inform you of time periods when crime is at its worst.

11. Keep in Touch with Drivers

Telematics technology is a wise investment for long-term savings. Satellite monitoring of driver routes and times, fuel usage, and even maintenance problems can all be tracked via GPS systems. They are also an excellent tool when drivers need immediate emergency assistance should a security problem occur.

12. 'Chain' Keys to Your Drivers.

Written fleet policies should instruct drivers to always place vehicle keys in their pockets when leaving vehicles unattended. Always.

13. Control Rest-Stop Parking

It only takes about 40 seconds for a thief to break into a vehicle and hotwire the engine. Caution your drivers to park where danger is least likely to occur during breaks and food stops.

14. Schedule Cargo Handling in Safer Areas

Counsel your drivers not to handle cargo in unsafe areas — have them drive away and work with cargo where it is safer.

15. Use Two-Person Teams in Dangerous Areas

Reduce risks in high-crime areas by using a “buddy system” during deliveries. Women on the job are twice as likely to be considered targets for theft. Take extra precautions, such as training employees in self-defense and using PDAs for improved morale and personal safety.

16. Consider Deep-Tinted Glass

Take a tip from limousine operators — deep tinted glass lets light in, but makes it hard to see inside.

17. Anonymity can be Helpful

Consistently using the same vehicles and the same drivers carrying the same load is an easy way for thieves to stalk and target which vehicles carry the most treasured goods. Throw a wrench in the mix. Criminals make their living taking advantage of unsuspecting people doing day-to-day activities. Being unpredictable with your fleet activities is a great way to outsmart crooks.

18. Communicate Through Warning Decals

If your drivers don’t carry money, let others know it. Other decals can offer rewards for information assisting in the arrest of suspected vehicle theives.

19. Secure Company Parking Lots

Fencing and illumination for company parking lots are other tools to ward off thieves. Security surveillance systems and armed response are great ways to keep an eye on equipment when you can’t.

20. Park Vehicles Overnight in Secure Areas

Overnight street parking is trouble waiting to happen. Specify where you do and do not want to have vehicles parked.