Stolen Truck! Steps to Protect Your Tractor Trailer from Thieves

We read yet another article about a stolen truck and had to shake our heads.

Steps to help prevent having a stolen truck.Why in the world did the truck driver walk away from his truck while it was running (obviously with the key in the ignition)?

Perhaps it was the case that the driver thought:

  • “I’ll only be inside for a minute” (underestimating the time it would take for theft to occur);
  • “There’s no potential danger here” (underestimating the prevalence of would-be thieves).

Regardless of what went on in the trucker’s mind, the rig was stolen — along with everything he did not take inside the store with him.

How Often Are Trucks Stolen?

Law enforcement vehicle behind large truck on shoulder of road.Truck theft — that is, the stealing of commercial motor vehicles — is not as uncommon as some people might think.

A search for the keyword “stolen” on the trucking news listed on’s Dec 11 feed shows quite a number of articles about this activity.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, at least one trucker had a truck stolen out of a truck stop in December 2011.(1)

Plan ahead properly.Don’t Fail to Plan Ahead to Prevent Truck Theft

Plan ahead properly.

There are some low cost and common sense ways for truck drivers to protect their tractor trailers from being stolen.

This includes the whole rig, just the tractor, or just the trailer.

Separately, there are also ways to help prevent cargo from being stolen.

Also separately, there are ways to help avert a hijacking situation.

But those are topics for another time.

So, let’s get into specifics…

Steps to Help Prevent a Stolen Truck

  1. Never ever leave your truck running and unlocked when you’re out of it.If you’re idling for comfort and you have to leave your truck, make sure you lock it and take a spare key with you.
  2. Never ever leave your truck unlocked in a public place.This may sound a bit extreme because some drivers don’t lock their truck doors while fueling.However, some truckers may not even lock their doors after pulling forward after fueling to get their fuel tickets.This is an invitation to have a stolen truck.
  3. Professional truck driver Mike Simons on the CB radio.Be careful what kinds of information you convey on the CB radio and through social media regarding your whereabouts, the cargo or freight you’re hauling, and your destination.We already addressed the dangers of truckers engaging in geotagging.
  4. If at all possible, do not park in isolated areas where you could be targeted for theft.
  5. Do not make your rig or the things in it “attractive” to would-be thieves.Drivers who “flash the cash” or wear flashy jewelry may be setting themselves up for not only the things from their rigs but the whole truck.
  6. Portable ice machine on the floor in front of the passenger seat makes would-be thief entry through the peek window hard if not impossible.Reduce or guard access points for would-be thieves to gain entry.At one time, had a series of posts on their site about things stolen, one post of which addressed how thieves entered trucks by removing the grommet from this window and rolling down the passenger side window.(2)Of course, you can’t get rid of your roll-down windows, but you may be able to do something about the peek window or fresco window near the floor of the passenger side door.Although we certainly didn’t take it with us as a safety precaution, the placement of our portable ice machine between the passenger seat and dash would have made it pretty nearly impossible for a would-be thief to gain access to Mike’s truck through the peek window.
  7. Consider increasing security in and on your truck, such as by:
    • acquiring a traveling pet (of course, make sure that your trucking company allows you to have a pet with you and if so, make sure that the pet has been trained to bark only at intruders);
    • running a strap — if allowed — through the handles of your doors at night to prevent entry or providing other measures of home security in your truck;
    • installing a satellite tracking system in your tractor, on your trailer or both; or
    • installing a security system.

Vehicle Disabling Technology or Remote Disabling System

A Magtec keypad installed on a truck's dashboard, accompanied by a warning sticker.One of the trucks that Mike drove had a Magtec vehicle disabling system installed in it.

A photo of the keypad and warning sticker is shown here.

The warning sticker reads:

“This vehicle is protected by a remote disabling system. When activated, the system will cause the vehicle to gradually stop. Stopping in traffic may cause serious injury or death to yourself or others. Find a safe place to pull over and stop. Place reflective triangles to maximize visibility. No person can override the system.”

Magtec sticker on driver side window above FMCSA inspection sticker.As a theft deterrent, all trucks in the fleet that had this kind of a disabling device installed also had a warning sticker applied to the driver side window above the FMCSA inspection sticker.

Other Measures to Help Prevent a Stolen Truck?

We’re sure that there are probably other measures that truckers can use to help prevent truck thieves from perpetrating a stolen tractor trailer crime.

Let us know which measures you use or would like to use to prevent having a stolen truck.

truck drivers money saving tip iconMoney saving tip: Besides the tips listed above, part of any good program of preventing truck theft is to look at your truck from the perspective of potential truck thieves.

Ask yourself:

  • If I were in the thief’s shoes, how would I get in the truck?
  • How easy is it to get in that way?
  • What deterrents are in place to make my access or crime harder or impossible?
  • What barriers might I encounter?

Do yourself a favor and evaluate your whole truck from that perspective.

Sometimes the simplest things are quite effective in preventing a stolen tractor trailer.

Carelessness and being off-guard for even 30 seconds can lead to a stolen truck as an October 2010 article from CBS News reported.

Protect your job and your career by taking safety precautions at all times.

Return from Stolen Truck! Steps to Protect Your Tractor Trailer from Thieves to our Truck Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.


1. (no longer online)

2. (no longer online)