For many haulage companies, the question of illegal access to their vehicles remains an ongoing headache. |
The good news is that there are solutions available that can significantly reduce the problem.
If one excludes outright theft of the vehicle, there are two main reasons why people will try to gain illegal access to the interior of a commercial truck, van or trailer:
• To steal the contents • To enter the United Kingdom illegally
Obviously the former category can arise just about anywhere, though the latter is typically restricted to areas of continental Europe that are within relatively close reach of the channel ports servicing the UK.
As a general rule, soft-sided vehicles are most at risk as criminals or potential illegal migrants may attempt to cut into the truck through the canvass, curtain or tilt. True, illegal entry to vehicles can also be interpreted as people clinging to elements of the undercarriage or superstructure, but the main problem is entry into the interior itself.
Criminals – Keeping Them Out
For haulage companies, some goods are high-profile in terms of their attractiveness to criminals. Electronic goods are perhaps a prime example.
It’s probably correct to say that if a tilt trailer is unhitched and left alone in a quiet place, then thieves may have near unlimited time to bring up moderately heavy tools and use them to gain access while unobserved. In such circumstances, there’s probably not a lot you can do to keep them out – so avoid such scenarios altogether by parking in secured areas.
However, majority of thefts is opportunistic. They arise from criminals operating in service stations, roadside cafés and so on, who don’t have much time or the chance to use heavy-duty or powered tools. In many cases, their maximum sophistication is something like a Stanley knife.
Similarly, most people in this category will not have a huge amount of time or powerful tools at their disposal.
Their objective is also different and they’ll be keen to leave as little visible sign of their entry as possible to reduce the chance of being detected at vehicle inspections prior to boarding the vessel or train.
It’s worth remembering the risks here for haulage companies. You could be fined up to £2000 per person found on your vehicle upon arrival in the UK. You may be able to mitigate that by claiming you had taken all reasonable precautions, but doing nothing in the hope you’ll get/stay lucky won’t be considered to be a ‘reasonable precaution’.
To reduce both sets of risks, the prime objective must be to firstly take all the common-sense steps. That includes ensuring that solid industrial strength chains and padlocks are used to fully secure the opening points of the covering canvas. Avoiding parking in high-risk locations would also be advisable.
You may also want to give serious consideration to using some form of armoured tilt or canvass. Various forms exist, including those that have steel wires and mesh interwoven into the plastic covering.
These are so strong that they are virtually impenetrable with ordinary knives and related sharp hand tools. They can make entry into a soft-sided vehicle near impossible for most illegal migrants and opportunistic thieves.
Yes, this will entail an extra expense for haulage companies. Even so this may be relatively small potatoes when compared to the potential costs associated with theft or fines for bringing in, even if unintentionally, illegal migrants.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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