How is Freight Stolen? Looking into Frauds and Scams


Stolen Freight is one of the fastest growing and under-reported fraudulent events taking place in the trucking industry today. Whether you are a broker, shipper, or carrier, becoming a victim of a stolen load is one of your worst fears.

Internet Truckstops Security Services Department routinely receives many different kinds of stolen freight reports. Highly targeted commodities over the past several years have included truck loads of electronics and pharmaceuticals. But more recently there has been a noticeable shift in commodities that are not as easily traceable such as produce and other perishable loads.

How is Freight Stolen?

The reports we have received include a myriad of different stolen freight methods along with how the stolen freight is disseminated. Listed below are the most common scenarios that have been reported:

  1. A duly registered and licensed motor carrier contracts to move a load, picks up the load from a shipper, and the load never reaches its intended final destination. One of the first warning signs as a broker or shipper is when you are not receiving regular check calls from your carrier. The second warning sign is usually when the load does not arrive on time and with no communication from the carrier as to why.
  2. The carrier hauling the load stops at a Truckstop where the load is stolen from the carrier. The truck might be unattended for as little as one hour which is all it takes for the truck and trailer, or the loaded trailer alone, to be stolen. In some cases, and given enough time, the thieves will transfer the load to their own trailer. In this case the theft can go unnoticed for a long period of time and even right up to the delivery and unloading point. Another common scenario is when loaded trailers are temporarily dropped in unsecure locations for the weekend or while maintenance is being done on the truck. When the carrier returns the loaded trailer is missing.
  3. Often, scammers purporting to be a legitimate company, using the identity of said company, will book a load. They will then have a truck with a driver who is a party to the scam, pick up the load with the legitimate company’s information added to the side of the truck. This information is usually on a removable door placard. The truck will then disappear with the load. They will usually use the same company’s information several times before stealing another carrier’s identity. This also results in the stolen identity of the carrier whose information has been targeted and used as part of the scam.

What Should You Do If Your Freight Is Stolen?

  1. You should always use the information listed on the FMCSA to contact the company/carrier that you are booking a load with. If you suspect a load has been stolen, contact the company you booked the load with to determine if the load was stolen by the company’s driver alone, or if the trucking company appears to have some involvement. It could be that the carrier is a victim of stolen identity.
  2. If you are unable to make contact with the carrier you should notify law enforcement immediately. If the load is considered stolen from the time it left the shippers yard, it is recommend that you contact the local law enforcement where the freight originated. If the load was stolen from the carrier in transit, you should contact the local law enforcement in the city where the freight was stolen. It is also recommended that you contact the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation from the region where the freight was stolen. When you contact law enforcement, have as much detail as possible about the circumstances surrounding the theft including whether the carrier was involved, if it appears to be a case of stolen identity, or if it was a random theft.
  3. Report the theft to Internet Truckstop. If you believe the carrier was involved, file a CPR complaint for stolen load, as well as sending an email to security@truckstop.com. If you believe it was a case of identity theft and that the carrier whose information was used is not involved, or the load was stolen from the carrier in transit, email security@truckstop.com with all the details and provide copies of all relevant paperwork.

How to Prevent Stolen Freight

  1. Make every effort to verify that you are dealing with a legitimate carrier, and more importantly, an authorized representative of that carrier. Verify that the carriers contact information matches with what is listed on the FMCSA and DOT websites. If it does not, call the number listed on the websites to verify you are dealing with an authorized representative of the carrier company.
  2. Contractually require that your carriers not leave high value freight unattended, and if they must do so, require that it be left in a secure gated and insured lot if available.
  3. Always check a carriers CPR/CACCI ratings and performance history on Internet Truckstop where potential risk indicators and other pertinent information can be found as part of your carrier pre-qualification efforts.
  4. Always check Internet Truckstop’s Industry Alerts. If we have received any reports on carriers who have either stolen loads or have been a victim of identity theft, you will find this valuable information in our Industry Alerts located on our website.

Working together and taking a few extra minutes to conduct the precautionary measures listed above may save you from becoming a victim of a stolen load.

If you have other suggestions or experiences that you would like to share, please send us an email at security@truckstop.com.