Pharma cargo thieves start to deploy jamming technology

JammersCompanies often deploy covert GPS-tracking technology in the fight against cargo theft, but thieves are now entering the arms race.

A series of attempted cargo thefts of pharmaceuticals being shipped by road have featured the use of jamming devices, deployed in an attempt to block the tracking signals and prevent security firms and the police recovering stolen shipments, according to the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC).

Just last week, a tractor and trailer hauling $2m-worth of pharmaceutical products was stolen from a truck stop in Cartersville, Georgia, with the thieves deploying two separate GSM jammers (pictured), but were unsuccessful. Law enforcement was able to track the shipment and recover the product intact, although those behind the theft evaded capture.

There was at least one portable tracking device, supplied by HIDDENTEC USA and monitored by GlobalTRS, concealed within that shipment which ultimately assisted in guiding police officials to make the recovery, according to the PCSC. Thankfully, jammers have limited range and successfully blocking a covert device placed inside the load has proved difficult to maintain for extended periods of time, it adds.

"As we’ve learned in the past, these people are persistent and will continue to employ jamming technology until they find one they feel might be successful," commented PCSC's Chuck Forsaith, who also serves as director of supply chain security at Purdue Pharma.

Last month, suspected cargo thieves were apprehended in possession of jamming equipment in Florida which may indicate the beginning of a trend towards the use of counter-measures to covert GPS tracking.

"Outside the US, jamming technology has been used by cargo thieves for some time and there are effective risk mitigation techniques deployed in those regions," commented cargo security specialist Freightwatch. Most attempts at jamming have occurred in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and parts of Europe, according to security experts.

"If the risk of jamming in the US quickly escalates, security programmes will need to evolve to address the increased risk in the regions affected," it added. A layered security programme, utilising multiple tracking devices that includes covertly place units within a shipment, provides the best mitigation against jamming

Atlanta's WSB-TV 2 news has a report on the most recent theft, which can be viewed below.

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