Are GPS jammers the next frontier in cargo theft?

By Greg Grisolano, staff writer

Two cargo thefts in Florida and Georgia earlier this year may have given law enforcement a window into the evolving methods some thieves are using to help perpetrate the stealing of tractor-trailers and their valuable cargos.

In a July 29 report, FreightWatch International, which specializes in tracking supply chain information and cargo thefts around the globe, cited two unsuccessful thefts: one on June 26 in Brevard County, Fla., and one on July 22 in Bartow County, Ga. The thieves were either apprehended or forced to abandon the boosted vehicles, leaving behind jamming equipment.

The July 22 incident involved the recovery of a trailer loaded with more than $2 million in pharmaceutical narcotics. The theft was thwarted in under an hour, in part because the stolen trailer had a hidden GPS tracking device in it. While the suspects weren’t apprehended, police did find a jammer device with the stolen rig.

The CEO of the company that installed the GPS device in the pharmaceutical load said the availability of jammers for sale in countries outside the U.S., and via the internet, “permits almost anyone to obtain the technology very easily.” 

“With industry’s increasing use of GPS tracking technology to protect their high value shipments, increasingly sophisticated and organized cargo theft gangs will undoubtedly increase their use of these devices,” said Gary Bryant, CEO of Hiddentec USA Inc. and Global Tracking and Recovery Solutions.

Based in the United Kingdom, Hiddentec is a multinational enterprise with more than 20 years’ experience manufacturing and deploying GPS transponder technology in more than 40 countries.

Chuck Forsaith, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition, said the proliferation of jamming devices is something the logistics and cargo security industries should keep tabs on.

“Whether that’s a clear indication of an escalation of that particular activity or not … it’s definitely different than what we’ve seen in the past,” Forsaith said. “But to label it a full-scale escalation would be difficult unless it happens, I think, a couple more times.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission, federal law prohibits the operation, marketing or sale of any jamming equipment in the U.S. LL