53598485 | Welcomia | Dreamstime
Cargo thief in van

How to prevent cargo theft with cameras

May 24, 2023
Due to the threat of thieves stealing cargo and components such as catalytic converters, fleets and shops must become more vigilant by relying on cargo and security cameras to catch bad actors in the act.

With commercial vehicles becoming more advanced and expensive by the day, fleets need to turn to technology to protect their assets, meaning both their trucks and trailers and the cargo that they carry. In Part One of this series, Fleet Maintenance covered the increased risks of theft facing fleets today and what components may be targeted. But here are some tips and technology to help fleets keep their freight under lock and key or, failing that, spot thieves before they can escape.

How cameras can prevent cargo theft

Brian Joseph, Jr., operations manager at the Akron, Ohio-based body shop Fleet Fast, said cameras are a visible deterrent, they can gather evidence, and they can alert you due to motion or suspicious activity through the use of AI. This makes cameras a key component of fleet security.

“Innovative technology can help curb cargo thefts,” agreed Chris Corlee, product management director at trailer technology provider Orbcomm. “Fleet managers can now count on many tech resources to increase the visibility of their assets.”

Phillips Connect CEO Rob Phillips said choosing the right location for the cameras is essential. Installing a camera at the back door of the semi-trailer can be particularly effective for monitoring the cargo and detecting any attempts to tamper with the door or steal the cargo.

“Pairing the cameras with a door sensor can trigger camera events whenever the door is opened or closed,” he said. “This can help to ensure that the camera is capturing footage at the right time and can provide a more complete picture of what’s happening in and around the trailer.”

Types of cargo theft cameras and sensors

There are several solutions to address the rising theft problem.

For example, Phillips’ Connect1 fleet analytics platform offers complete insight and management of a fleet. Phillips said the Connect1 user interface can be customized to send alerts if multiple tires on the same trailer show fast deflation, which can indicate tire theft. Using tools and techniques like this can help fleets proactively prevent tire theft and protect their assets.

“Storing the camera footage in the cloud via Connect1 can provide an additional layer of security, as the footage cannot be lost or removed,” Phillips said. “This can be particularly important in the event of a theft, as it can provide valuable evidence for law enforcement and insurance purposes.”

Read more: DTNA aims to combat CPC module thefts

According to Joseph, Jr. these cameras can help prevent parts from being stolen, including batteries, windshield wipers, mirrors, and even grilles.

Both Phillips and Joseph, Jr. said the key to using cameras effectively for cargo security is to choose high-quality cameras. Phillips said to look for ones designed for use in semi-trailers specifically and to pair them with other security measures such as door sensors and alarms. Joseph, Jr. mentions a few good features to look for in a security camera: night vision, wide-angle lenses, motion detection, two-way communication, weatherproofing, and remote access.

“Configure the camera system to send notifications or alerts to fleet managers or security personnel when suspicious activity is detected,” Joseph, Jr. says. “This can be done through email, text message, or app notifications.”

Joseph Jr. said teaming up with a security company that provides years of experience with cameras and troubleshooting is the way to go. He said it has helped Fleet Fast keep its cameras up and running.

Orbcomm’s door sensor solutions, Corlee said, allow for identifying unauthorized door openings and closing to capture potential theft. They can also define the locations for open or closed doors by setting geofence perimeters. And cargo camera sensors can be installed to see the interior of the trailers and check cargo integrity.

“Therefore, with technology, [drivers] can easily be informed about any unauthorized or unplanned access to their cargo and take immediate action to mitigate loss,” Corlee said.

Corlee explained that Orbcomm’s solutions are “purpose-built and ruggedized for the demands of the transportation industry” and are made to be maintenance-free.

“In the event of damage or mishap, the units are designed for a simple remove-and-replace process that minimizes the required downtime between loads.”

AI-powered cameras bring a new wave of security for fleets, docks, and shop yards. Choosing the right camera can also depend on the kind of range and accessibility you need to accomplish the goal.

The Nio, an AI-driven camera from iDter, can detect intrusions before a crime occurs. Truck dealerships use the device to catch thieves trying to lift fuel or other parts of their trucks. Nio can sound an alert, flash lights, and have a voice say the police are being notified. And, they actually will be called. If you need a camera to detect motion in combination with video analytics, the Nio has both features. 

About the Author

Faith Boone

Faith Boone has  more than 15 years of experience as a journalist, public relations professional, strategic marketer, and entrepreneur. She has held several positions within the communications industry, and also enjoys giving back to the community through her work with various non-profit organizations. She is the founder of Boone Logic, a Cleveland-based content development and marketing consultancy. 

Sponsored Recommendations

10 Steps Every Tech Should Follow Before Clearing Fault Codes

Are you tired of recurring fault codes? Clear them with confidence today! View the 10 steps that every technician should follow before attempting to clear faults.

Repair, Replace or Retire - Grab Your Calculator

Don't make the mistake of ignoring fleet maintenance. Learn how to be proactive instead of reactive and reduce up to 70% of breakdowns.

Mobil Delvac™ oils give race car haulers winning edge

See how Mobil Delvac™ oils boosted the Tony Stewart Racing Team

The Technician’s Guide for Mastering DPF Regens

Become a regen expert today! Equip yourself with the skills necessary to recognize when a forced regen is the correct procedure to maximize the lifespan of your filter and keep...