Wheels of Justice
Cargo theft by security guards
Read this excerpt from a letter I received recently from an outraged reader:
“A security guard at a shipper went above and beyond what was necessary to protect his employer. First of all, he never informed me he was going to check the inside of my truck. He sent me to the other side and entered my truck without my consent. I made it known he had no permission to enter my truck, and I told him in no uncertain terms to get out.
“All my ducks were in a row. I had the proper paperwork with me, I was on time for my appointment, I was speaking with people I knew, and they knew me. I was in a full company uniform, and I had a company ID badge clearly visible on my shirt.
“He ‘allowed’ me to enter my truck and then demanded I open every cabinet in the truck and show him what I had. I’m a truck driver, not a lawyer, but there seemed to be no probable cause for this guard to enter and search my truck. I told him if he went any further, I would seek legal action.
“The bottom line is that there was money in the console, now missing. It’s his word against mine that a theft has been committed.
“Please tell me what right this security guard had to violate my rights like this.”
Well, when you enter someone’s property, such as a warehouse dock, you become an “invitee,” and the property owner has certain responsibilities to you. One of the ways an employer can protect his employees is to limit entry on his property of people, weapons and/or drugs. He should post a notice that they are not allowed, along with a notice that all vehicles and/or persons on the property are subject to searches. Yes, he can do that.
The difference between the government and private security guards is the government can force a search on you, the security guards cannot. The security guard can’t put you in jail or fine you for failing to allow them to search you or your truck. They can deny you entrance on to the property if you fail to permit the search.
As for your money, I would notify the guard’s supervisor and the shipper about the theft. I’d also have your safety director write a letter to them on your behalf, as it will give you more credibility. If this is the first complaint against this guard, I expect the employer to side with the guard. If this has happened in the past, I expect them to do something about that guard. Either way, you start a paper trail for you, your company and the shipper about that guard.
Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., an organization that provides legal defense protection to commercial drivers. Jim is a lawyer who focuses on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking, and he holds his Commercial Drivers License.