Recently there have been some articles and discussions involving truck stop crime and even one that went so far as to depict truck drivers as having the perfect lifestyle to become a serial killer. While the latter did absolutely nothing to improve the image of the professional driver it does help to start a discussion that is often overlooked. As Desiree Wood pointed out, in some cases it gets swept under the carpet and buried under the ever-increasing pile of other trucking related issues. So in the interest of being fair to all of the issues we are going to look at common crimes that happen in and around the trucking industry and we will also look at some ways that you can take an active part in combating it.
First off, drivers need to ask themselves what things are considered a crime and the answer is simple, anything that would be a crime anywhere else in the country is still a crime, just because you are in a truck doesn’t make that fact go away. We have all seen the prostitution at truck stops and even at some shippers and receivers but how many of you actually stopped to think “that could be my daughter, granddaughter, niece, little sister, etc.” or better yet, how many of you actually picked up the phone to have someone come out to look into the situation. The statistics show that many of those girls taking part in that activity are forced into it through trafficking rings, they don’t have a choice and many are beaten or killed if they don’t follow the demands put upon them by the traffickers who are holding them captive.
Other crimes take place in the world of trucking as well and many of them can be prevented. Assault, theft, robbery and even murder happen every day throughout the country and in many cases the truck stops and parking areas for trucks attract it. Poorly lit areas with little to no human activity are a breeding ground for the bad element to conduct their dirty work and obviously the best option is to stay away from areas that are either known for that type of activity or look like they could be a breeding ground for it. In the real world of trucking that isn’t always an option. as parking is at a premium already. If you are traveling with a few other drivers together on your trip then by all means try to park together as multiple sets of eyes give added security. If the lighting is poor where you are parking then be sure to leave the marker lights on when you are parked, this will help provide an area around your truck that potential predators will want to shy away from as they don’t want to be seen.
Take stock in the environment surrounding you when you park, if other drivers are present next to you then take the time and try to memorize what they look like. This practice can help both you and them in some cases especially if someone tries to enter their truck or trailer while they are away from it and you happen to see it. If you see someone trying to get into a truck near you and it seems to be taking them an excessive amount of time to do so then this could be an indication of a crime in progress. It only takes a few seconds to roll down the window and say “hey, is everything alright” and in many cases that is enough to send someone running off because they were seen. On the other hand it might be another driver that is just having a mechanical issue with the door that you might be able to help with, in either case you took a very simple action without being overly invasive.
Making your presence known is a huge deterrent for criminal activity as the vast majority of crimes take place in dimly lit less traveled areas, remember the strength in numbers theory. Make your trips to and from your truck with other drivers when possible. Avoid walking between trucks whenever possible as this is a common place for people hide in the shadows, the longer route and a little extra walking isn’t going to hurt anyone. Also be sure to walk far enough away from the side of a truck as allowed, this gives you a larger viewing angle to spot anything out of the ordinary. Don’t be afraid to report suspicious activity because chances are if it looks suspicious then it probably isn’t on the level.
If you are unsure of the signs of potential problems then take the time to educate yourself, you can get great resources from places like Truckers Against Trafficking regarding the signs to look for and who to call regarding potential trafficking issues. There are also plenty of resources online for issues such as truck theft, load theft, missing children and many more. It only takes a few minutes of your time to inform yourself so pay attention to postings on bulletin boards when you walk in or out of a building in an area that you are parking at. You never know when you might be the one to spot that missing child, stolen truck, or suspect in a murder case. The simple solution to combating criminal activity is to start being more vigilant and proactive, don’t present yourself as an easy target and don’t let those around you be targeted just because you didn’t want to bother making your presence known.
We are supposed to be a brotherhood and sisterhood out on the road so lets start acting like it, look out for your neighbor as well as yourself, stop pretending that these crimes don’t happen because it didn’t happen to you yet