Does IT matter? It does against crime

I just had an interesting breakfast with Mark Eppley. You might know him as the founder of LapLink. But this morning he was telling a different story. Business really is about stories, you know. Do you have a compelling one? He does.

100 semi-truck-loads of goods disappear every day in the United States.

That’s his story. I had no idea. Billions of dollars in supply-chain losses every year. Turns out organized crime steals trucks. They usually find the trucks later on. But the load is gone. Some of this is in collusion with truck drivers. Some of this is just opportunity (a truck is left running at a truck stop, a thief breaks in and steals the truck, takes it to a drop-off-point where the load disappears into an underground marketplace).

In some overseas markets, he tells me, they are even more brazen. They’ll just kill the driver and take the truck.

Does this crime pay off? Well, consider a truck load of Viagra. One pallet of that stuff is worth millions. One truck can hold $30 million worth or even more.

Now you know how the spammers are being funded.

So, how is Mark Eppley’s new company, SC-Integrity (for supply chain integrity), gonna stop them?

Well, with the Amazon model. Huh?

He’s sticking all sorts of data from the supply chain industry into a database and looking for commonalities.

You know, the same kind of system that Amazon uses to figure out that if you buy a Harry Potter book you’re probably going to be interested in other things based on the past behavior of other people who’ve bought Harry Potter books.

He also uses a variety of devices that are placed inside the cargo. They use a variety of information gathering and sharing techniques and techniques to avoid detection. He didn’t want me to share much about how the devices work but let’s just say they report back home where they are and other data. They also aren’t detectable and if jammed, that can be figured out too.

Does his anti-crime system matter? Well, he says they’ve already returned millions of dollars of goods back to their owners.

Can this system be foiled? Yes. But he says that’s not the point right now. The point right now is to raise the bar on the criminals and make them react to the system. Most crime, he says, goes to where the easiest fruit lies. His customers, he says, will be very happy if they reduce their losses by a few percent.

Oh, and do trucking companies prosecute drivers? Usually no. They usually just fire the drivers who then go across the street and do it again at another company. The trucking industry has a shortage of drivers, he says, so they’ll usually hire anyone without a criminal record.

So, what he’s doing is looking not at the driver, but at the route, or at the truck stop, or at other common patterns. What’s the probability of a trucker carrying a load of diamonds getting hit at a certain truck stop? His system will know over time. Just the same way that Amazon knows the probability that you’ll buy a Tom Peters book after you buy a Harry Potter book.

Does IT matter? Ask the criminals who are behind bars.

Comments

  1. That’s interesting – I had no idea that much loot was stolen from trucks. I saw a discovery channel show a while back about some kind of GPS unit that certain trucks are getting that sit right above the cabin so that they can be tracked via satellite at all times. I guess the satellite can’t tell you if the truck is being hi-jacked though, only if it’s on course or not. Sounds like a big market if 100 loads a day go missing.

  2. That’s interesting – I had no idea that much loot was stolen from trucks. I saw a discovery channel show a while back about some kind of GPS unit that certain trucks are getting that sit right above the cabin so that they can be tracked via satellite at all times. I guess the satellite can’t tell you if the truck is being hi-jacked though, only if it’s on course or not. Sounds like a big market if 100 loads a day go missing.

  3. Only 100? Doesn’t seem that bad. I would be more worried about bootleg goods from other nations being released here. Selling for high prices, because it is made dirt cheap in some third world country.

    Here’s an idea: increase the number of embedded RFID tags in products. The box if Viagra you mentioned, how hard would it be, in the cardboard to have an RFID tag? When it is attempted to be sold, moved, or purchased, the RFID tag is scanned and identifies as stolen goods.

    I always wondered why a group of vagabonds don’t just go steal a best buy truck loaded with HDTV’s. I really wasn’t expecting the number of 100 every day, I was expecting much much higher.

    If you think about the number of trucks moving every day on the roads, this is a small precentage.

    I’m just glad someone is trying to do something about it! Fighting fraud brings prices down which then (hopefully) get’s passed down to us.

  4. Only 100? Doesn’t seem that bad. I would be more worried about bootleg goods from other nations being released here. Selling for high prices, because it is made dirt cheap in some third world country.

    Here’s an idea: increase the number of embedded RFID tags in products. The box if Viagra you mentioned, how hard would it be, in the cardboard to have an RFID tag? When it is attempted to be sold, moved, or purchased, the RFID tag is scanned and identifies as stolen goods.

    I always wondered why a group of vagabonds don’t just go steal a best buy truck loaded with HDTV’s. I really wasn’t expecting the number of 100 every day, I was expecting much much higher.

    If you think about the number of trucks moving every day on the roads, this is a small precentage.

    I’m just glad someone is trying to do something about it! Fighting fraud brings prices down which then (hopefully) get’s passed down to us.

  5. Is it RFID? It might be able to thwart jamming, but those things can have their circuitry fried pretty easily. And with something like pills, you’d really have to embed the tech within the pills themselves to truly work, as those things tend to be repackaged as they work their way through the black market.

  6. Is it RFID? It might be able to thwart jamming, but those things can have their circuitry fried pretty easily. And with something like pills, you’d really have to embed the tech within the pills themselves to truly work, as those things tend to be repackaged as they work their way through the black market.

  7. Brilliant – had to do a bit of digging but it reminded me of an engagement quite awhile back – with a company called SRD, since acquired by IBM. Their speciality was identity resolution and thier space was Las Vegas and the gaming industry. Their engine was called NORA – stood for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness. Lots of can’t talk about stuff but Mark is on the right track. Hope he does it.

  8. Brilliant – had to do a bit of digging but it reminded me of an engagement quite awhile back – with a company called SRD, since acquired by IBM. Their speciality was identity resolution and thier space was Las Vegas and the gaming industry. Their engine was called NORA – stood for Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness. Lots of can’t talk about stuff but Mark is on the right track. Hope he does it.

  9. I run SCMv2.0

    Yes, IT is the sweet spot in the DHS. You should see their Secure-E-Supply Platform agenda on Tamper Proof Sealing and Cell Tracking. They aslo have a darn good ATS (Auto-Targetting system) with good intrustrive and hurestic cull alogorthim.

  10. I run SCMv2.0

    Yes, IT is the sweet spot in the DHS. You should see their Secure-E-Supply Platform agenda on Tamper Proof Sealing and Cell Tracking. They aslo have a darn good ATS (Auto-Targetting system) with good intrustrive and hurestic cull alogorthim.

  11. Interesting… we just had 3 Wal-mart trucks recovered yesterday outside of Greenville, SC (home of WM’s largest DC, on the East Coast anyway, maybe continentally, not sure…) anyway, funny you brought that up.

    You should get BlogMiles for your work, enjoy your anniversary and keep up passion!

  12. Interesting… we just had 3 Wal-mart trucks recovered yesterday outside of Greenville, SC (home of WM’s largest DC, on the East Coast anyway, maybe continentally, not sure…) anyway, funny you brought that up.

    You should get BlogMiles for your work, enjoy your anniversary and keep up passion!

  13. > Oh, and do trucking companies prosecute drivers? Usually no. They usually just fire the drivers who then go across the street and do it again at another company. The trucking industry has a shortage of drivers, he says, so they’ll usually hire anyone without a criminal record.

    It sounds like they need an employee “reputation” service.

  14. > Oh, and do trucking companies prosecute drivers? Usually no. They usually just fire the drivers who then go across the street and do it again at another company. The trucking industry has a shortage of drivers, he says, so they’ll usually hire anyone without a criminal record.

    It sounds like they need an employee “reputation” service.

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  17. I can’t believe its that high, you never hear about it on the news or in news papers or anything, thry should start implementing safety features into the trucks as they do in car, such automatically locking the doors when you get in and close the door.

  18. I can’t believe its that high, you never hear about it on the news or in news papers or anything, thry should start implementing safety features into the trucks as they do in car, such automatically locking the doors when you get in and close the door.