UK – Freight drivers are being urged to be extra vigilant as Christmas deliveries reach their peak. TruckPol, the UK’s freight crime intelligence unit, has warned that HGV drivers are a prime target for organised crime groups that prey on vulnerable lone workers, often when parked in unsecure parking areas around the UK.
Road freight crime costs the UK economy up to £250 million each year, with the average loss of each crime costing over £22,500. Historically the number of offences increases during the Christmas period as more goods are transferred on our roads. As the economic forecast for growth remains gloomy and fuel prices look set to rise again, it is more important than ever that UK transport companies protect their goods and vehicles, whilst keeping drivers safe.
Back in March we told of a new app being developed for freight drivers being tested by various road haulage operators which advises truckers of things they need to know to keep safe like secure parking locations, crime hotspots, foreign laws, HGV route planning such as poor weather conditions and traffic alerts. Data is available in real-time and in a variety of languages and the app can be accessed via android phone, tablet or a desktop application and is also being piloted through a TV screen at Ulceby truckstop, Immingham, UK. It is hoped that the system will gain private sector support and will be rolled out throughout the road freight industry within the North Sea Region and beyond, supporting industry and economic growth.
TruckPol advise us that HGV drivers are often at risk, as criminals target festive loads. One such example occurred last December. A HGV driver was pulled over in the early hours on the A435, near the south Birmingham section of the M42. He was waved down by two males in high visibility jackets. Once the driver was out of the vehicle he was threatened and then restrained using plastic cuffs, whilst the criminals stole his load of food goods.
Vulnerable vehicles are usually the target of organised criminals who set out to thieve from trucks parked in unlit areas, lay bys or anywhere in isolation. TruckPol advise on some simple and obvious steps which many drivers often overlook with a ‘couldn’t happen to me’ mentality.
Plan your route in advance: avoid regular routes and stopping places, which could be under the observation of organised crime groups and never discuss what you carry. Do not leave keys in the ignition: nearly half of stolen vehicles are taken when the keys have been left in them and always lock the cab when you leave it, even for a minute. The Park Mark Safer Parking Scheme ensures the parking area has been assessed by police and processes are in place to make the location safer for drivers – use it.
Always protect your identity, keep documents and company clothing hidden. If stolen, thieves could impersonate you and collect your loads and report any suspicious behaviour, whether you believe a vehicle is following you or there are unknown persons acting suspiciously nearby let your office or the local police know or tell TruckPol via their website contact form.
Photo: Remember – Keep em Peeled - The inimitable Shaw Taylor guesting on Tiswas.