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PPE hijackings and warehouse thefts rising

04 March 2021

A commercial insurance broker is warning both hauliers and warehousing companies that PPE, sanitisers and homewares are the ‘new alcohol and tobacco’.

Ascend Broking is urging the HGV and warehousing sectors to be vigilant as the pandemic is inflating the value of PPE and sanitiser-related products on the black market and making them more attractive theft items.

Violence within thefts is also on the rise, with hijackings, in which a driver is held up on the road, with some sort of weapon involved, becoming more common than previous modes of theft, which tended to involve breaking into parked-up vehicles.

Drivers are being duped into stopping, or are being diverted off-route, so that an attack can take place.  Some are then forced to drive the load to a pre-determined unloading area, where the thieves make off with the cargo and abandon the driver. 

False documents are also being used to mislead warehouse staff or warehousing operations are being infiltrated with ‘insiders’, who gain access to the areas in which valuable stock is held or have the knowledge that enables a theft to take place.  Warehouse break-ins have been on the rise and it is often the ‘new’ black-market items which are sought. 

Ascend Broking is working with its insured transport managers, HGV operators and warehousing clients, to bolster their security and risk management. It has tips for hauliers and for warehouse and distribution companies:


  • Review risk management policies and procedures immediately, close loopholes and check there are no easy ways to take advantage of your systems. Bring in specialist help, to avoid being exposed, and check your goods-in-transit cover is robust.
  • Make sure procedures are not weakened when something, such as driver illness, a security alert, a vehicle breakdown or accident, or a detour occurs. Ensure drivers and staff are especially on their guard when the ‘unexpected’ happens.
  • Make removing the keys from a vehicle when leaving it, for any reason, second nature, but encourage drivers not to leave their vehicle, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Ensure robust route planning takes place pre-departure and encourage drivers to advise of any unanticipated detours or diversions the minute they occur. Encourage any GPS monitoring company to be equally alert to any route changes.
  • Train your drivers in better surveillance, encouraging them to take note and report any vehicles that could be following them or acting in a suspicious way around them, or ahead of them.

Warehousing and distribution managers

  • Review your risk management policy and procedures and be diligent in filling in gaps and spotting possible issues, using expert help.
  • Consider who can access storage areas containing ‘valuable’ goods in theft terms and restrict access, keeping these locked whenever access is not required and putting the key or swipe card in a secure, locked place.
  • Make your workforce your eyes and ears and encourage reporting of suspicious or odd behaviour or of people entering areas without authorisation.
  • Pay special attention to temporary staff and the access protocols that you operate.
  • Bolster your security and surveillance systems and check that you are fully insured, particularly if you are holding more items than usual, due to Covid and Brexit stockpiling.

For more information, visit www.ascendbroking.co.uk