Reducing the Risk of CPC Unit Thefts

January 06, 2023

By Casey Myers

Throughout the U.S., thefts of common powertrain controllers (CPC) are on the rise. This component is considered the brains of the truck. Vehicles are inoperable without it because it controls vital engine and powertrain functions.

Thieves can easily cut the modules out of dashboards and sell them on the black market for $4,000 - $6,000 per unit. Trucks are often considered a total loss when one is stolen because of the microchip shortage.

You can mitigate CPC thefts on the road and when vehicles are not in use by implementing some of the strategies detailed below.

  1. Protect property perimeter(s) by making it harder for thieves to access. They may give up and go to a less secure location.
    1. Install chain-link fences topped with barbed or razor wire.
    2. Use high quality locks on fence gates, like Enforcer or Master Lock 6000 series locks.
    3. Plant thick thorny bushes or other landscaping that creates natural barriers and deters intruders.
    4. Build or extend masonry walls.
    5. Hire a security officer or company after hours.
  2. Protect building exterior(s) and control access to property. Use lighting and alarm systems to discourage thieves.
    1. Implement a system for controlling all keys, security cards and keypads. Change locks, access and/or codes to ensure former employees and bad actors cannot enter. Get keys and cards back when employees leave.
    2. Instruct employees to use a designated entrance before and after business hours.
    3. Install alarms and/or be sure that your alarm system is adequate for your business.
    4. Install security and motion lights to deter thieves.
    5. Post signage indicating that the property is protected by an alarm system/video surveillance.
  3. Vet applicants before hiring. While it’s tempting to hire quickly, due diligence may keep you from employing a crook.
    1. Perform criminal record and background checks.
    2. Check with previous employers to verify employment and find out why they left.
    3. Contact their references.
  4. Protect CPCs proactively. If a loss occurs, work with law enforcement, dealers and repair shops so they don’t reinstall your stolen units.
    1. Record the serial number for all units.
    2. Password protect every unit – the dealer should be able to assist.
    3. Alert police immediately when a CPC is stolen. Provide applicable serial numbers.
    4. Work with your Operations Dept. to plan routes to find van operators safe places to stop.
    5. When parking at night, drivers should park in well-lit areas. Day or night, they should park as close to the front of lots as possible.
    6. Reinforce to van operators that they should roll up windows and lock doors when leaving the cab, even if it's "just for a minute." 
    7. Detachable units should be removed when the vehicle is parked.
    8. Park trucks behind fences or even better, in a fenced area with active security.
    9. Work with fellow van line agents to see if your drivers can park behind their fences.
    10. If your CPCs are stolen, contact local dealerships and repair shops. Request their assistance to locate the units. Supply serial numbers. Ask them to compare them against any CPCs scheduled for installation. 
    11. Contact police with information about serial number matches so they can better investigate the crime. 

Conclusion

CPC theft can be a major problem for movers because supply chain issues are delaying the manufacture of new units. In addition to vehicle replacement and repair costs, stolen modules can result in missed deadlines and create disruptions for customers at origin and delivery. Worst case: your vehicle may be totaled if a new unit is not available.