US

'Sting trailers' offer insight into the multibillion-dollar business of cargo thievery

  • In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo, a small door sits open on the back of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. Investigators said cargo thieves can use small doors like this one to check inside truck trailers for valuable items. Investigators at The Travelers Cos., work to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)

    In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo, a small door sits open on the back of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. Investigators said cargo thieves can use small doors like this one to check inside truck trailers for valuable items. Investigators at The Travelers Cos., work to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo Douglas "DZ" Patterson, a theft investigator for The Travelers Cos., examines an intact seal of a truck trailer at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. A broken seal can be an indication that cargo has been stolen from a trailer. Patterson works to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)

    In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo Douglas "DZ" Patterson, a theft investigator for The Travelers Cos., examines an intact seal of a truck trailer at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. A broken seal can be an indication that cargo has been stolen from a trailer. Patterson works to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo, Scott Cornell, a theft investigator for The Travelers Cos., looks at a broken truck trailer seal after finding it on the ground at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. A broken seal can be an indication that cargo has been stolen from a trailer. Cornell works to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)

    In this Nov. 3, 2015 photo, Scott Cornell, a theft investigator for The Travelers Cos., looks at a broken truck trailer seal after finding it on the ground at a truck stop in Willington, Conn. A broken seal can be an indication that cargo has been stolen from a trailer. Cornell works to prevent cargo theft, including deploying a "sting trailer" packed with hidden surveillance equipment. Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S. (AP Photo/Dave Collins)  (The Associated Press)

Cargo theft has become a huge problem that the FBI says causes $15 billion to $30 billion in losses each year in the U.S.

Law enforcement and the insurance industry are fighting back by tempting thieves with "sting trailers" laden with cameras and GPS tracking devices, hidden within both the trailers and the inventory they contain.

The prevention efforts aren't new. But the reason for them is particularly acute during the holiday shopping season, when such thefts tend to increase as crooks look to score from retailers loading up on merchandise.

Over time, the sting trailers have given authorities a glimpse into how this breed of thief operates and helped truck owners improve security.