Think you only have to worry about cargo theft? Think again!
With used vehicle prices so high and supply chain issues still running rampant, theft of vehicle catalytic converters and common powertrain controller (CPC) modules are on the rise.
Why? Well, rare metals and the microchip shortage is to blame.
CPC modules, or ECUs (engine control units), are the interface between the MCM Vehicle Maintenance Management system and the vehicle/equipment, which constantly monitor and manage the engine and other vehicle/equipment functions.
In other words, the CPC controls various engine and powertrain functions, and vehicles cannot work without it.
Criminals steal the module from a parked truck in minutes, often damaging windows and dashboard wire harnesses in the process, as used modules are in high demand on the black market from $4,000 to $8,000.
These thefts have left truck owners and fleets with unusable trucks at a time when it takes months for the trucks to be fixed.
Where are thefts happening?
As one might imagine, this is happening all around the country, from California to New York.
In fact, one of the largest known theft of CPCs occurred in April 2022 at an auction yard in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania just before their biggest auction ever. Among many other items, there were 1,800 trucks ready to go up for sale, but before the trucks could be sold, 24 CPCs were stolen from the commercial vehicles.
Additionally, thefts of computer modules that control older Freightliner Cascadias continue after a rash of robberies in May, causing Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) to announce the launch of a broad company initiative to fight the pervasive theft from its vehicles.
“We’ve seen the number of reported incidents fall, but even one reported CPC [theft] is one too many,” a DTNA spokesman said. “This is why we’ve partnered with our dealers and customers to implement measures of deterrence, tracking and sharing information back with our customers and law enforcement to address these incidents.”
Does Insurance Cover Computer modules (CPCs) Stolen from Trucks?
If someone breaks into your truck and steals your GPS system, ELD, tablets, computer, or CPC, is it covered by insurance?
The short answer is “Yes, but it depends.”
Basically, most truckers have comprehensive insurance coverage, which is an optional coverage that protects against damage to your vehicle caused by non-collision events that are outside of your control.
This includes theft, vandalism, glass and windshield damage, fire, accidents with animals, weather, or other acts of nature.
However, the “it depends” deals with what your policy actually says and to what value of the theft.
For example, if you have liability-only insurance coverage, this probably does not include any coverage for theft at all. Comprehensive insurance coverage offers some protection against theft, and a lot of collision insurance packages include theft coverage to some degree.
If you have a lot of valuable equipment in your truck on a regular basis, you need to make sure you have enough coverage to protect the value of the items in your truck.
Lastly, cargo theft is covered by your truck cargo coverage. Truck Cargo coverage insures the contents of the trailer, temperature-control machinery, and other appliances or accessories that keep cargo secure; and coverage is custom-evaluated for the type of commodities hauled and the requirements of the shipper.
What steps should truckers take if as victims of theft?
If your vehicle, equipment, or cargo is stolen:
- Call the authorities right away
- Give a detailed report of the incident
- Notify your employer
- Either you or your employer file an insurance report
What can you do to protect yourself?
Many of the CPC thefts have occurred at dealerships, customer terminals, and on the road. In response, Daimler instituted the following anti-theft measures:
- Report theft: Daimler is asking all customers, repair facilities, and dealers to report stolen CPCs to both local law enforcement and DTNA at 1-800-FTL-HELP.
- Cross-reference VINs: Daimler recommends all dealerships, customers, and repair facilities to cross reference vehicle identification numbers from CPCs brought in for installation against the company’s database of CPCs to ensure the CPC hasn’t been stolen or illicitly sold
- Tracking: Daimler is providing tracking capability through DTNA Service Systems to detect any stolen CPC attempting to be installed on a different VIN
Truckers can be proactive as well in protecting their trucks. You can:
- Password-protect your CPCs by contacting the CPC manufacturer
- Lock your cab doors
- Plan your route and find safe parking
- Park in a fenced, well-lit, or gated locations
- Turn off and take vehicle key with you if you leave the cab
- Activate vehicle alarm system, if equipped, and any other available security equipment when the vehicle is unattended
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