Auto vehicle theft is a common problem in the United States. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, auto theft rose 9.2% to 873,080 thefts in 2020, making it the largest theft year in the past decade by a significant margin. These thefts range from stealing an entire vehicle to a simple smash-and-grab of valuables in plain sight. Summers prove to be the worst season for vehicle theft, which is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has declared July as National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month.
Commercial fleets are no exception to the rule. Smash-and-grab thieves often target fleet vehicles when drivers make deliveries, pick up cargo, or make service or sales calls to a business. Drivers are often preoccupied by the task at hand and do not fully appreciate the value of the items in the vehicle since they don’t own them.
Let’s look at a few strategies that you can use to secure your fleet against theft and associated threats.Auto theft is one of the most common property crimes in the United States, and commercial vehicles are no exception. Click To Tweet
Every 43.8 seconds a vehicle is stolen in the US.
Basic Security Principles
There are several essential security precautions that fleet owners should take to minimize the risk of vehicle theft.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends four layers of protection against vehicle theft:
- Common Sense: Don’t leave keys in the vehicle, lock doors and windows, and park in well-lit areas.
- Warning Devices: Install column collars, steering wheel locks, brake locks, and aftermarket alarms.
- Immobilizing Devices: Use intelligent keys, fuse cut-offs, kill switches, disablers, and wireless ignition.
- Tracking Devices: Install tracking devices to help authorities recover stolen vehicles and catch those responsible.
The NICB also recommends a few ways to prevent smash-and-grabs and other crimes of opportunity:
- Visibility: Install the darkest legal limit of a tint of vehicle windows and remove or hide any valuables.
- Protection: Install metal mesh, build secure compartments to hold valuable tools, and reinforce door locks.
- Identifiers: Mark all tools and equipment with permanent identifiers and catalog them to increase recovery chances.
- Deterrents: Add stickers that indicate the vehicle has additional security measures or consider security lights.
Implementing these basic security principles requires a combination of technology and behavioral changes.
Improving Security with Technology
Telematics and video solutions such as dash-cameras are essential to implementing many basic security principles across a fleet.
Some technology to consider:
- Dash-cams: Dash-cams provide video evidence from a driver and road perspective. Powerfleet Vista goes a step further by leveraging 360-degree cameras and artificial intelligence to analyze and proactively manage risky driving and security incidents rather than just using video as evidence after the fact.
- Geofencing: Geofencing involves setting work area boundaries on a map. If a vehicle leaves the perimeter, fleet owners can receive an alert and proactively follow up. Powerfleet Vista makes it easy to set up and update a geofence from a web-based dashboard and receive alerts when vehicles deviate from their course.
- Sensors: Tamper sensors help identify attempted theft as it’s occurring by sending alerts. Powerfleet Vista’s Parking Mode automatically triggers an alert and starts recording a video if there is a sudden jolt when the vehicle is off.
- Access Control: Access controls can help fleet owners control who is driving a vehicle, limit drive times, and easily determine which driver was in a vehicle when an incident occurred.
- Panic Buttons: Most vehicle thefts occur when nobody is in the vehicle, but there’s a risk of armed robbery in many high-value industries. In these cases, panic buttons can alert owners and authorities when a theft occurs without a phone.
Powerfleet Vista’s powerful user interface. Source: Powerfleet
Many different companies provide telematics solutions, but few have Powerfleet’s technology and experience. With a wide range of solutions designed for fleets of any size, we can help build a fully integrated solution that’s easy to manage with a web-based dashboard or add-on to existing fleet management solutions.
Building a Security-Focused Culture
The best technology in the world is useless if managers and employees don’t use it, which makes employee training essential.
There are a few key steps to take:
- Background Checks: Conduct employee background checks before hiring them. Employee-involved crime occurs in virtually every industry, and employers should know as much as possible about prospective employees before hiring them.
- Driver Training: Driving isn’t an employee’s primary responsibility, so it’s easy for training to fall through the cracks. In addition to covering the basics, driver training should cover security policies, such as locking doors and activating alarms.
- Manager Training: Owners and managers should also have the proper training to ensure they can use security tools from a fleet management perspective. For example, they should know how to create and update geofences and receive alerts.
It might make sense to appoint a fleet security officer with law enforcement or legal background to protect fleet assets in larger fleets. These officers would be responsible for everything from developing the proper training and operational policies to overseeing the data generated from the telematics and dash-cams across the fleet.
Benefits Beyond Security
Many of these technologies may seem like overkill for security, but fortunately, they provide a wide range of other benefits that can help improve your business’s bottom line.
Some key non-security benefits to keep in mind:
- Driver Safety: Telematics solutions can detect unsafe driving behavior. Using these data points, managers can reward safe driving or retrain employees with a negative pattern of driving habits.
- Fuel Efficiency: Telematics solutions can help improve fuel efficiency by encouraging better driving habits, maintaining parts, and monitoring fuel efficiency levels.
- Better Maintenance: Telematics solutions go beyond simple miles driven to get an accurate idea of when maintenance is required. That way, you can prevent breakdowns and minimize costs.
- Legal Defense: Telematics and dash-cam footage can help defend and exonerate drivers. In addition, the presence of these technologies may help lower insurance costs.
These benefits play a vital role in the payback period and return on investment of telematics solutions.
The Bottom Line
Vehicle theft is on the rise, and commercial vehicles are no exception. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your fleet with a combination of best practices, technology, and employee education.
Powerfleet provides a wide range of telematics and dash-cam solutions for your fleet. In addition to improving security, these solutions can help you increase fuel economy, reduce maintenance costs, and promote better safety, providing a near-term payback period and high return on investment.
Our solutions are easy to install and operate, and they can run as a stand-alone platform or as an integral component of other fleet management systems. Wireless connectivity supports 4G LTE for telematics components, while built-in Wi-Fi supports auxiliary cameras for a 360-degree view at all times.