In September 2008, thieves broke into an Alltel Communications warehouse in Fort Smith, Ark., via four of its loading docks. The intruders disabled the alarm and surveillance systems before helping themselves to four tractor-trailers loaded with an estimated $10 million worth of cell phones.
Furthermore, threats can go beyond theft.
In August 1982, Leonard Avery entered an IBM plant in North Carolina carrying a Thompson submachine gun, where he went on a shooting spree that left one employee dead. He came in through the unsecured loading dock.
Would you leave the back door to your house open while locking the front one? Probably not. Nevertheless, loading docks represent exactly that—a back door that is often left open in the hustle and bustle of normal business operation.
The Dangers Go Beyond Physical Security
Far less dangerous but far more prevalent is theft via the loading dock. The nature of the shipping industry often results in shipments and pickup drivers coming and going at all hours. Cybercriminals know that it’s much easier to have their victims hand something over than it is to sneak in and steal something. Today’s practice of brokering shipments makes this method of theft increasingly easy.
Many suppliers post loads on the Internet for pickup, and carriers bid on or schedule loads through these listings. Carriers receive the information they need to pick up the loads and then come to the facility. Sometimes, thieves will steal the identity of a legitimate carrier and use that to accept the brokered load via the Internet. They then arrive at the warehouse with the necessary information to pick up the load and drive away.
Loading docks are also the perfect place for employees to walk out with company property, or to facilitate theft by propping open doors or otherwise giving accomplices warehouse access.
Balancing Daily Business with Real Security
Insecurity at any loading dock results from several competing needs. Trash must go out. Supplies must come in. Shipments must go out. Employees and vendors come and go. It can be a hectic, volatile environment, one that requires a diligent balancing act.
Richard Tesauro, Vice-President of Security at NFI, a transportation and logistics company based in New Jersey, says that lax procedures or enforcement creates opportunities for bad things to happen. Based on his experience at NFI and 28 years with the New Jersey State Police, he offers a variety of measures that organizations can take to secure their loading dock areas.
- Record truck and driver identification—driver’s license, identification, license plates, phone numbers. Make sure they are who they say they are, and verify their contact information.
- If possible, use your own carrier or one third-party carrier. Having a consistent system in place reduces the chance of theft. Familiarity with carriers can help alert you when anything is amiss.
- Use a Dock Lock System, where a hook locks onto the ICC bumper at the back of the trailer. Designed as a safety mechanism, it can also serve as a security feature. Until released from the inside (by someone at the facility), the trailer can’t be pulled from the dock door.
- All personnel or man doors should be closed, locked and alarmed, 24 hours a day, with a limited number of doors designation for entry and exit. Limit the ease of people walking in and out.
- When not in use, all dock doors should remain closed, latched and have a padlock attached through the latch.
- The driver’s entrance at the Shipping and Receiving office should be separated from the warehouse floor by a fence to limit drivers’ access to the warehouse. Drivers should only be allowed access to dock area under escort.
- Install interior and exterior cameras for surveillance of all doors, drivers and workers.
- Maintain strict supervision and oversight. All the security measures in the world are useless if not supported and followed by every level of the organization, from top to bottom.
- Perform security audits of loading dock procedures to identify and correct weaknesses.
- If loaded trailers are left in an unsecured yard, apply kingpin locks to prevent anyone from hooking up to the trailer and driving away.
For more information about eliminating vulnerabilities in your loading dock security, call one of our specialists at Sunstates Security today.
Sources: Canfield, Amy. “Hospital loading docks rival ERs for security concerns,” Security Director News, 25 November 2013.
Paul, Lauren Gibbons. “10 Steps to Loading Dock Security,” CSO Online, 5 October 2008.