To catch a thief

To catch a thief

In the hit 2001 movie "Ocean's Eleven," Danny Ocean and his gang of 11 thieves stage heists of three major Las Vegas casinos during a boxing event. The gang simultaneously executes a series of cons to defeat a high-tech security system and steal $150 million from the combined casino vault buried 70 feet below the Vegas strip, including:

-- Using a magnetic pulse to shut power off to Las Vegas.

-- Stealing elevator access codes from the casino owner.

-- Rappelling down an infrared-protected elevator shaft to the vault.

-- Staging a heart attack in the casino's security command center to distract guards.

-- Overriding the casino's high-tech video-surveillance systems with a fabricated video stream.

-- Using an acrobat squeezed into a tiny steel cart to unlock vault doors (he breaks free of his steel cart within the vault, back flips over floor security systems, and detonates explosives to unlock vault doors).

-- Escaping under the guise of a police SWAT team sent to apprehend the thieves from the vault.

If art imitates life, this movie illustrates the importance of layers of protection to security systems. Criminals have noticed that today's high-value shipments are in the tens of millions of dollars. It is imperative that properly layered security practices be in place to protect your corporation's assets, reputation and good will.

Every distribution organization should have three security practices to protect in-transit goods:

-- A documented set of freight security requirements.

-- Contractually binding standards of care for transport vendors.

-- Compliance monitoring to evaluate carrier performance against company security objectives.

Skipping any of these key practices leaves your organization vulnerable to full-trailerload cargo theft. Criminals far less adept than the gang in "Ocean's Eleven" can steal your unattended trailer in seconds, leaving you with a multimillion-dollar loss that could have been prevented.

The first security layer required is a comprehensive set of freight security requirements, documenting internal supply-chain security procedures and ensuring that all employees follow best practices during daily operations. Typical requirements include:

-- Managing physical and technical security systems.

-- Controlling access to distribution centers.

-- Alerting recipients of in-transit cargo ETAs.

-- Planning low-risk transit routes.

-- Handling seals and locking devices.

-- Communicating securely with other personnel during transit.

-- Staging products at distribution facilities while in transit.

-- Refueling and rest breaks.

Documenting these procedures, communicating them on a regular basis and integrating them into daily operations will add those additional layers of security required in today's high-theft environment.

The next protective layer is a contractually binding standards-of-care document that specifies how you want your carrier to handle your product. SOCs define standards by which your providers must transport your products, and include provisions for carrier compliance with your requirements.

SOCs define standards by which carriers must transport your products - such as whether double-brokering is permitted, or if loads can be staged. These standards extend your security strategy from the gates of your distribution facilities to the entire in-transit supply chain.

The last security layer is to monitor compliance to your FSRs and SOCs. You need to know whether carriers are complying with your standards of care, and whether employees at all facilities are adhering to corporate freight security requirements.

Supply-chain audits and compliance-review sessions are some ways to evaluate performance against your security objectives. Technology such as covert tracking devices provides objective oversight over your entire distribution operation. Shipped along with your cargo, covert tracking devices tell you the exact location of your cargo at all times.

Danny Ocean played by three rules: no blood, rob only who deserves it and do it as if you have nothing to lose. In today's lucrative world of cargo theft, the only rule that applies is the third. With high payoffs and minimal criminal punishments, cargo thieves have nothing to lose and everything to gain.