Crime watch

The syndicate web of the transport Industry


Crime syndicates run like a well oiled machine. Like any business they have levels of responsibility and assigned tasks. From acquisition, to transport to distribution.

I recently conducted an investigation into a truck load of goods that had been taken in Johannesburg at the infamous Vaal 1 Stop/Vosloorus area. They drove around for a while and then headed up to Diepsloot to offload the goods. After the offload they “dumped” the truck on the side of the road and disappeared.

This is becoming all too common nowadays as the criminals have access to load information and driving schedules. Further investigation informed us that the driver was in fact involved with the heist as you can see the driver communicating with the hijackers via cell phone on the cab camera system. Later you see the driver opening the door and even assisting. None of this was done under duress I might add. 

What do we do to overcome this you may ask?

There are a number of things we can do to try and curb internal sabotage. As in the aforementioned company, a camera system can be installed to monitor the driver. That is only as good as the driver knowing where the cameras are. Tracking devices are used more and more these days to not only monitor the vehicles but also to monitor the loads. With the use of “entrapment” devices that are paired to the vehicles tracking device, you can have more control over where the load is going.

We recently used an “entrapment” device in one of our client’s loads to monitor where his load was going. Understandably there is risk, in that the device is as good as gone as soon as you put it into the load. However, and as predicted, the load was offloaded at an area other than specified by the logistics company and was further moved by a third party to a warehouse in the south of Johannesburg. It didn’t take us long to realise that the goods had been moved.

We activated the tracking device and were able to locate the area where the stock had moved to. This resulted in the recovery of the stock and some arrests being made. It doesn’t really matter what your load is or where it is going to, the load can be tracked. Our advice to our customers is this, reputation vs. cost.  A transporter who constantly loses loads or gets hijacked on a regular basis will soon lose customer confidence and they will move elsewhere. Transport companies have to start looking at customer confidence vs. cost savings. 

A lot of the big logistics companies are using multiple tracking devices by more than one company to meet their key performance indicators (KPIs). This is a good practice in principle, as it gives their client the peace of mind that all is being done to combat load tampering and provides more than one form of load and or asset recovery.

Transport mules

Another example of where the transport industry is being used by the criminal element is in the third party transportation of stolen goods. Recently a large building materials supplier received an order for product. This was done using fraudulent purchase orders and fake email addresses. The product was transported by the company’s preferred transporter to a location advised by the bogus client and offloaded.

Another truck came along and loaded the goods and transported the goods to another location. Again an investigation was initiated and the load was followed. Numerous people were involved in the elaborate web of misdirection and fraud. It must be noted that the initial transporter had no knowledge of what was going on.

The third party transporter had full knowledge of what was going on and was involved. What caught these guys out? Well I can’t divulge that information or the cat will be let out of the bag. The client allowed us to be creative and use their product as cheese for the RAT.  Many hours were spent observing the “bait” and with enough patience, we were able to follow the load. The outcome at this stage is still confidential as the case is still ongoing.

Most companies offer the standard, track, trace and recover option for your fleet with the added benefit of reports, live tracking and deviation, etc. Most of them offer engine cut off and all the little bells and whistles that can make your life easier. It’s up to you to decide what is essential and what a gimmick is. All these little ad-ons cost money, and will affect the bottom line down the road.

Some companies have these options as standard at no extra cost to you. Is it worth it? Only you can decide that.  

Daily I receive information about loads being hijacked or a truck being taken with the driver and the driver is never to be seen again. What is the common denominator in most of these incidents – the drivers or crew?

I encourage transport companies to employ stronger vetting processes and think outside of the box. Speak to your tracking companies about what measures can be taken. If they can’t help, change your provider. There are always providers waiting to assist with the best solutions for your business.

Tony Dobson


PULL QUOTE: An investigation was initiated and the load was followed. Numerous people were involved in the elaborate web of misdirection and fraud.


Did you know?

Unlike carjacking, where the object is to steal the vehicle, the object of truck hijacking is generally to steal the load, which is easier to sell than the commercial vehicle itself. Truck hijackers are usually violent, professional thieves, who have planned the method of attack, the captivity of the driver, and a location where the trailer will be unloaded, and have the capacity to fence the load once they have it. Fundamental to all truck hijacking is that the vehicle is in a 'stop' position. The attack, therefore, can take place at any time the vehicle is stationary. However, the thieves often use social engineering techniques to ensure that the vehicle stops at an agreed, or convenient, location to the hijackers.

Hijacking.jpg IMG-20150803-WA0049.jpg stolen cargo 1.jpg varu1truck_6313891521.jpg
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