By: Tyrone Lowther
Over the past three years, Budget Insurance has noticed a 30% spike in Goods In Transit insurance claims on Black Friday. The week that follows Black Friday, including Cyber Monday, are also red flags for courier companies.
Since the pandemic, most retailers are offering Black Friday deals both online, and in-store. This is a win for those wanting to avoid the chaos surrounding the annual shopping frenzy. Scoring a deal doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll score the goods though as courier vehicles (vans, cars, trailers, trucks and motorbikes) containing Black Friday shopping hauls are targeted by criminals.
The hijacking of courier vehicles on Black Friday is of great concern. In addition to the hijacking risk, goods are also being taken by force in armed robberies. The items most coveted by criminals over Black Friday include cellphones and electronic equipment like TVs, gaming consoles and computers.
In 2022, the value of goods stolen from courier vehicles on Black Friday increased by 20% from 2021 which illustrates consumers’ online shopping comfort levels.
Important tips for online shoppers:
- Make sure that you know which courier company will be making your delivery and when they will do so.
- It’s wise to use a retailer whose courier company has Goods In Transit Insurance. If they do, losses can be easily recouped. Remember that the transferring of ownership of your purchases only occurs when they have been delivered and are in your possession. Then, you’ll need to update your insurance policy and sum insured accordingly. So, if you don’t receive your Black Friday purchases, the onus is on the retailer to reimburse you.
- Include clear instructions to the courier company for when they reach your home to avoid them spending extended periods of time outside the property, making them an easy target.
- If security alerts have been issued in your area, share these with the courier company.
- Always complete the collection as swiftly as possible. Pick the most secure spot available for the delivery of the parcel and the signing of the delivery receipt – ideally one that isn’t publicly accessible.
- When collecting a parcel, always keep an eye out for suspicious individuals or vehicles. Alert the courier driver and authorities if anything is amiss and do not open your gate unless it’s 100% safe to do so. If possible, keep a panic button, linked to armed response, nearby.
Important crime prevention tips for courier companies:
- Stay alert -- It’s easy to get distracted when you’re travelling all day. Make sure you keep your eyes on the road and notice your surroundings.
- Leave enough room between your car and the one in front to avoid being boxed in.
- If you think that you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or another safe, public place.
- Make sure you have the appropriate insurance that covers the vehicle as well as the goods in transit.
- Courier companies should provide their employees with training so that they know what precautions to take to prevent theft and how to react in a hijacking or robbery situation.
- The red zone is typically the first few hours of the day when vehicles are followed from the depot. Employees should be extra vigilant during this time and routes should be varied so that there is no predictable route.
- If possible, park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
- If you sense you are in danger, hit the button on your tracking device if you have one.
- Adjust your speed when approaching a traffic light so that you do not have to come to a complete stop.
Hijackings and armed robberies have become an unwelcome part of our reality. However, courier companies can take steps to protect their cargo and their staff.
* Tyrone Lowther is the head of Budget Business Insurance.