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Stolen Truck!
Steps to Protect Your
Tractor Trailer from Thieves


We read yet another article about a stolen truck and had to shake our heads. Why in the world did the truck driver walk away from his truck while it was running (obviously with the key in the ignition)?

Perhaps it was the case that the driver thought:

  • "I'll only be inside for a minute" (underestimating the time it would take for a theft to happen);

    or

  • "There's no potential danger here" (underestimating the prevalence of would-be thieves).

Regardless of what went on in the trucker's mind, the rig was stolen -- along with everything he did not take inside the store with him.



How Common Is This?

Law enforcement vehicle behind large truck on shoulder of road.Truck theft -- that is, the stealing of commercial motor vehicles -- is not as uncommon as some people might think. A search for the keyword "stolen" on the trucking news listed on ClassADrivers.com's Dec 11 feed shows quite a number of articles about this activity.

And in case you're wondering, yes, at least one trucker had a truck stolen out of a truck stop in December 2011.(1)

There are some low cost and common sense ways for truck drivers to protect their tractor trailers from being stolen, whether the whole rig, just the tractor or the trailer.

Separately, there are also ways to help prevent cargo from being stolen. Also separately, there are ways to help avert a hijacking situation. But those are topics for another time.

So, let's get into specifics...



Steps to Help Prevent a Stolen Truck

  1. Never ever leave your truck running and unlocked when you're out of it. If you're idling for comfort and you have to leave your truck, make sure you lock it and take a spare key with you.

  2. Never ever leave your truck unlocked in a public place. This may sound a bit extreme because some drivers don't lock their truck doors while fueling. However, some truckers may not even lock their doors after pulling forward after fueling to get their fuel tickets. This is an invitation to have a stolen truck.

  3. Professional truck driver Mike Simons on the CB radio.Be careful what you say on the CB radio and what kinds of information you convey through social media regarding your whereabouts, cargo and destination. We already addressed the dangers of truckers engaging in geotagging.

  4. If at all possible, do not park in isolated areas where you could be targeted for theft.

  5. Do not make your rig or the things in it "attractive" to would-be thieves. Drivers who "flash the cash" or wear flashy jewelry may be setting themselves up for not only the things from their rigs but the whole truck.

  6. Portable ice machine on the floor in front of the passenger seat makes would-be thief entry through the peek window hard if not impossible.Reduce or guard access points for would-be thieves to gain entry. Of course, you can't get rid of your roll-down windows, but you may be able to do something about the peek window or fresco window near the floor of the passenger side door.

    Layover.com had a series of posts about things stolen, one of which was how thieves entered trucks by removing the grommet from this window and rolling down the passenger side window.(2)

    Although we certainly didn't take it with us as a safety precaution, the placement of our portable ice machine between the passenger seat and dash would have made it pretty nearly impossible for a would-be thief to gain access to Mike's truck through the peek window.

  7. Consider increasing security in and on your truck, such as:
    • acquiring a traveling pet (of course, make sure that your trucking company allows you to have a pet with you and if so, make sure that the pet has been trained to bark only at intruders);
    • running a strap -- if allowed -- through the handles of your doors at night to prevent entry or providing other measures of home security in your truck;
    • installing a satellite tracking system in your tractor, on your trailer or both; or
    • installing a security system.
    A Magtec keypad installed on a truck's dashboard, accompanied by a warning sticker.

    One of the trucks that Mike drove had a Magtec vehicle disabling system installed in it, the keypad and warning sticker of which are shown in the photo at left.

    The warning sticker reads:

    "This vehicle is protected by a remote disabling system. When activated, the system will cause the vehicle to gradually stop. Stopping in traffic may cause serious injury or death to yourself or others. Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Place reflective triangles to maximize visibility. No person can override the system."

    Magtec sticker on driver side window above FMCSA inspection sticker.

    As a theft deterrent, all trucks in the fleet that had this kind of a disabling device installed also had a warning sticker applied to the driver side window above the FMCSA inspection sticker.



Other Measures to Help Prevent a Stolen Truck?

We're sure that there are probably other measures that truckers can use to help prevent truck thieves from perpetrating a stolen tractor trailer crime.

Let us know which measures you use or would like to use to prevent having a stolen truck on our Facebook page.






truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: Besides the tips listed above, part of any good program of preventing truck theft is to look at your truck from the perspective of potential truck thieves. Ask yourself:

  • If I were in their shoes, how would I get in the truck?
  • How easy is it to get in that way?
  • What deterrents are in place to make my access or crime harder or impossible?
  • What barriers might I encounter?

Do yourself a favor and evaluate your whole truck from that perspective. Sometimes the simplest things are quite effective in preventing a stolen tractor trailer.

Carelessness and being off-guard for even 30 seconds can lead to a stolen truck as an October 2010 article from CBS News reported.

Protect your job and your career by taking safety precautions at all times.



1. http://asktrucker.com/2011/12/27/semi-carrying-40k-in-dairy-products-stolen-from-punta-gorda-pilot-truck-stop/ (no longer online)
2. http://www.layover.com/forums/layovers-lounge/t-stolen-71220.html (no longer online)








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