Parking Focus: Defending Drop Lots

Oct. 2, 2013
An electric security fence can help prevent cargo theft in and around commercial trucking lots

In the commercial world, truckers use what are known as “drop lots” and unmanned terminals in much the same way an individual will use a parking garage: as somewhere to park for a few hours. They use them either because they are switching loads, or because they’re legally required to take a break. Usually unmanned, these lots are popular locations for cargo thieves to strike.

Hiram Grau, Director of Illinois State Police said at the recent National Cargo Theft Summit that “50 percent of all trucking companies will experience cargo theft.” While it sounds shockingly high, cargo theft is often perpetrated by organized crime, which means the attacks at these drop lots are carefully planned, professional and occasionally violent. The annual financial losses are estimated to be in the billions.

“Very professional cargo theft crews use sophisticated tactics and surveillance,” says Ryan Shewchuk, Enterprise Security Director for trucking company Pitt Ohio. “They really do their homework to target cargo — pharmaceuticals, electronics, even if you have a shipment of steaks, you’re at risk. You wouldn’t think they’d want it [the steaks], because now they have to deal with it before it goes bad. And that demonstrates how organized these thieves can be, they can dispose of a whole shipment in that space of time. They have their own supply chain set up, and run it like a business.”

Unsecured or even insubstantially secured drop lots provide routine opportunities. Thieves often divvy up the labor: some identify drop lots with malleable security systems, while others on the team hack and track freight shipments of interest. Having identified a target, they may track a driver all the way to his drop lot hundreds of miles away.

A Solution: Electric Guard Dog

When cameras, alarms, and guards proved insufficient to the task, the trucking industry contacted us at Electric Guard Dog. As security professionals, it was our challenge to ensure that driver can get into his drop lot safely, without anyone else getting in, and ensure he remains safe while he’s inside.

A security executive at another major trucking firm told us that his drivers are very security conscientious, but they are often faced with entering these parking locations in the middle of the night, in dark terminals. He told us of an incident a few years ago in an unprotected lot where two criminals were waiting for one of his drivers, and they hit him over the head with a pipe and knocked him out.

This is where our technology came into play. The Electric Guard Dog is a multi-layered electric security fence that can be installed just inside an existing fence system or as a standalone unit. Solar-powered, it is always on and the battery is situated inside the lot, so the thieves cannot cut the power. The fence’s pulsed shock system delivers a safe but memorable shock every 1.3 seconds on contact, which makes it virtually impossible to climb or cut.  Attempts to scale or cut the fence will trigger an immediate audible alarm that prompts an immediate call from Electric Guard Dog’s 24-hour monitoring station service.

At the gate, we provide a variety of options, including a Radio Frequency ID reader; wireless communication at the gate back to a central security hub, where the gate is opened by virtual access, or stoplight s that show the driver that the system is armed, so he or she can disarm it.

“The system is good for mitigating cargo theft because it ensures the perimeter is protected, alarmed to prevent intrusion, and it integrates really well with other systems we use,” Shewchuk says.

Jack DeMao is CEO of Electric Guard Dog. To learn more about the company and its electric fence product, visit

About the Author

Jack DeMao

Jack DeMao is CEO of Electric Guard Dog. To learn more about the company and its electric fence product,