customs brokerage, freight forwarding and truck transportation

Stolen Containers: A Persistent Problem

: Transport

Stolen Containers: A Persistent Problem 2017-08-21

Notice to importers and exporters: if you utilize full ocean containers or highway semi trailers you must read this important message

Whether full or empty, semi trailers or ocean going containers and their chassis are extremely valuable to their owners and very portable by nature. They can easily be hooked-up and driven away from the loading docks of unsuspecting importers or exporters. Hundreds of containers and trailers are stolen this way each year.
There are direct economic consequences of container or trailer theft.
The importer or exporter is responsible to pay the cost of replacement to the owner of the stolen trailer, container and/or chassis when such a theft occurs from your property (owned or leased) or your leased property or your third party providers (warehouse) property. While this type of theft should be covered by your insurance you might not be compensated because the average trailer or container/chassis cost is less than most policy deductibles. Adding insult to injury, potentially being without cargo the importer or exporter is also responsible for any accrued demurrage on the container and on the chassis.
Milgram is not responsible for containers or trailers stolen from a client's facility.
Companies that engage in import-export are responsible to assure physical security of their own premises and that extends to your shipping and receiving areas. While Milgram cannot recommend any particular brand or model, there are relatively inexpensive devices available on the market for purchase by importers and exporters to help deter container or trailer theft including King Pin Locks and Wheel Clamps.

Strong, consistent and timely communication between the importer/exporter and truck dispatcher combine to maximize shipping/receiving area access but also help to minimize container or trailer dwell time. That essentially reduces the amount of time that criminals have to work with. Necessary diligence, active surveillance and the employment of effective risk management strategies by all of the partners in the supply chain will not only hinder the activities of criminals, but will also pay dividends for companies that have invested so much time and money in their respective enterprises.
The following is a general guideline on what to do in case of a container or trailer theft: 
  1. Immediately call the trucker to determine if they picked the unit up or not; if not,
  2. Call to report the apparent theft to the party (Milgram, other forwarder, or steamship line) that arranged the delivery or pick up on your behalf.
  3. Notify your insurers and follow their instructions.
  4. As in any other irregular situation, Milgram will follow up if the theft is reported to us; in the case of a container theft, the trucker will file a report with the local Police.
  5. The trucker will provide a Police incident number and subsequent to that a copy of the actual the police report.
  6. Milgram or the other party that arranged the delivery or pick up will notify the steamship line and provide them with the incident number and date of loss; this is an urgent and necessary step and is important in order to halt the demurrage clock. Failure to notify promptly may result in additional demurrage for the account of the shipper or consignee.
  7. The import consignee (or shipper in the case of an export) will have to pay for the container residual value (DV) or unit replacement cost; whether the move is carrier direct or arranged through a freight forwarder the result is identical and that cost has to be settled with the steamship line on a C.O.D. basis.
If the container or trailer is recovered at a later date and in good order, chances are that the carrier will refund any amount paid to them against a DV. The reality is that in most cases, while the trucker’s chassis is normally abandoned by the perpetrators, the empty container is not and they very seldom resurface.
For any other information on risk management techniques in general or specifically those that pertain to ocean containers or semi trailers, please contact Ted Chazin at 514-288-6002 extension 2406.


Milgram has developed a reputation for providing the highest level of service in the fields of Customs Brokerage, International Freight Forwarding and Ground Transportation.

We strive to make things simple for our clients by doing them better, and work hard to meet and exceed our clients expectations.

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