Technology helps nab high stakes cargo thief

Xata Corp.’s asset tracking solution helped a customer recover a tractor-trailer and load valued at $1 million stolen by a customer’s truck driver who went on the lam. “Police officers giving chase. High-tech wizardry. This isn’t just the stuff of action films,” Sarah O’Neill posted on Xata’s blog.

What started off as a quiet day turned out to be anything but. At 10:30 a.m. on April 3, a XataNet customer’s truck went missing. “The driver, believing he had disabled the system, covered a lot of ground in an attempt to ferret his prize into the night,” O’Neill said.

By using XataNet’s breadcrumb map, the customer worked with police from four jurisdictions to track the movement of the missing truck.

XataNet tracked the driver as he traveled more than 400 mi.; making stops at a truckstop, someone’s house and a storage facility, where Xata later learned the driver was loading stolen crates of cigarettes.

When it comes to tracking a missing truck, customers have the tools and data to do it all on their own, Tom Ryan, Xata senior client manager, said, “Customers can look at a breadcrumb map or Smartroute to pinpoint where it’s at.”

By using Xata’s mapping, powered by Bing maps, they can get a bird’s eye view of “the goods.”

Matt Roff, Xata software engineer noted, “Location updates are configurable by the customer. It can be as frequently as 5 minutes, though often times it’s around 15 minutes. The customer can determine how often they want that information to come in.”

In this case, “Bing maps had a picture, so we actually looked at the storage facility that the truck was sitting at,” said Ryan.

Six hours and 413 mi. later, police nabbed their man and recovered the customer’s truck with contents intact.

“In this day and age, asset tracking technology is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. As cargo theft becomes more prevalent, shippers are demanding more visibility; they want to know exactly where their valuable freight is,” O’Neill said. “Last year, cargo theft incidents were up by 8.4% over 2010. That’s a whopping 974 cargo thefts that landed on the books, according to the 2011 US Cargo Theft Report.”

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