Tougher security measures advised as cargo crime losses reach 5-year high

cargo crime

At the end of 2018, the Transported Asset Protection Association announced a five-year high of cargo crime incidents, with losses worth €6.8 million in just 30 days. In the Netherlands alone, 46 thefts were reported in November 2018, accounting for 15.1% of the global cargo crimes in that month. This trend is set to continue, according to integrated perimeter security solution supplier Sensurity, and warehouses and distribution centres are the most vulnerable links of the supply chain. To tie in with this week’s Logistics & Distribution 2019 event, the firm has put together some guidelines on what facilities managers should consider when choosing a security system for their warehouse or distribution centre perimeter.

With large and irregular perimeters, various containers and vehicles affording intruders plenty of hiding places, and unmanned hours at night and on holidays, warehouses and distribution centres are particularly difficult to secure. The cost of a break-in can be disastrous, whether in terms of lost product or damage to expensive equipment. Geoff Clarke, CEO of Sensurity, comments, “There are few ways to truly prevent intruders from entering your warehouse or distribution centre. Fences can be cut, dug under or climbed over with the help of a tall vehicle. Prevention is futile, so the aim of the game is to detect and deter.” Optimal intruder detection and deterrents depend on the specific needs of each site, but his company has drawn up a checklist of the five main factors to consider: detection probability, false alarms, space, terrain and budget.

Detection probability and false alarm rates

Today’s best intruder detection systems achieve 99.9% probability of detection, but that figure does not consider an intruder’s ability to perceive and avoid the system by jumping over or crawling under the detection zone, for example. One solution to this is a radar system which is completely invisible and undetectable to intruders, and can be positioned at heights of up to 10 metres. Meanwhile, as sensitivity of a system is increased for a better probability of detection, the false alarm rate usually increases too. Thanks to algorithmic processing, however, some of the latest systems can now recognize the difference between vehicles, humans running/walking/crawling, animals and even weather effects. Weather can be a particular problem, especially in motion or thermal detection CCTV cameras, as rain, snow, fog and wind can either lead to a high number of false alarms or completely hide intruders from detection.

Space and terrain

Some systems, such as standalone microwave radar and CCTV, need to be overlapped to ensure there are no detection deadzones. This creates a large installation footprint and can double the amount of mounting and cabling materials required. However, some pioneering dual-technology radar detection systems now incorporate infrared to cover the deadzones left by the cigar-shaped radar detection zone, according to Clarke. This eliminates the need for overlaps and reduces the number of units needed. On-site water, foliage and vegetation can impact on both the effectiveness and false alarm rate of perimeter intruder detection systems. Nowadays, though, smart systems using digital signal processing algorithms examine the environment and continuously self-calibrate to account for changes in these factors, such as trees shaking in wind.


The cost of a perimeter intruder detection system depends on the type of system – which can vary from a ‘plug-and-play’ system to one based on fibre-optic cable sensors requiring extensive installation work. The total cost of ownership is also affected by the number of units needed on site. In addition to the cost of installation, companies should consider the labour hours involved in maintenance and false alarms. In this context, systems enabled with remote configuration and maintenance capabilities can be particularly useful, especially for unmanned sites.

Since every site is different, Sensurity advises facilities managers to get an installer to audit their site before making a decision, and to test their preferred system before full integration.