Recently, a Motorcoach was stolen while idling at a pickup point for passengers. Two Motorcoaches were staged and waiting to be loaded with passengers when the first Motorcoach drove away. The vehicle was, as is common, left running while the driver was preparing to load passengers. The vehicle was boarded by a thief, and driven away from the spot location as the responsible driver and passengers stood by to watch the Motorcoach drive off.
The vehicle was driven out of sight, and the two drivers decided the best course of action was to attempt to follow and locate the stolen Motorcoach. In doing so, the passengers were left on the curb in a confused state. Not only was the operator affected, exceptional customer service also failed in this unfortunate situation. Within 15 minutes, the situation was back under control, and a replacement Motorcoach was provided as the second Motorcoach returned to the spot location to complete the move.
Let’s review what happened publicly:
- Two Motorcoaches arrived on time and were spotted correctly for the required move.
- Both Motorcoaches were left idling as is common, heat or A/C running for passenger comfort and exceptional customer service.
- At spot, with both drivers standing on the curb, the first Motorcoach drove away from the group with Driver and Passengers watching the event.
- Two drivers decided the best course of action was to follow the stolen Motorcoach in an attempt to locate the equipment.
- The two drivers lost sight of the stolen equipment and proceeded to drive around looking for the stolen equipment for about seven minutes before calling dispatch.
- Drivers were informed to return to spot and address the customer need while a replacement Motorcoach was dispatched to complete the customer needs.
Let’s review what happened behind the scenes:
- When a proper manager/dispatcher was notified 7 minutes after the situation developed, an emergency response plan was enacted.
- The police were immediately called while the fleet telemetry system was access to determine the location of the stolen equipment.
- The manager/dispatcher notified the owner of the company and was then able to get the replacement equipment rolling to the customer.
- The stolen equipment was located less than one mile from the point of theft, securely parked in between two semi-trucks at a loading dock, backed in and facing out.
- The stolen vehicle had police on scene within 4 minutes of the initial call and location information being provided from the onboard telemetry system.
- The vehicle was inspected for any items such as explosives or biological agents and was returned to the owner undamaged.
Let’s review what went wrong:
- The driver left the Motorcoach unattended and running in a crowded public area.
- The two drivers made a decision to chase the stolen equipment, and in making this decision, they spent seven valuable minutes that could have been used to locate the vehicle more quickly and notify authorities.
- The drivers exposed themselves and the public at large to unnecessary potential harm with a chase using large equipment at high speeds, operating a large vehicle in a distracted state of mind, and potentially exposing themselves to an unnecessary physical confrontation with a potentially dangerous criminal.
- The drivers left the customer stranded and let the situation become more confusing than it needed to be.
- The drivers failed to notify the proper manager/dispatcher of an event in a timely manner.
- Due to the time loss, the thief had left the scene and probably will not be found.
Let’s review what went right:
- The manager/dispatcher enacted the pre-planned emergency action plan in a timely fashion.
- The manager/dispatcher deployed the replacement equipment to provide the customer the transportation they needed in a timely manner.
- The company was aware of the situation and was able to locate the equipment with GPS and get the proper authorities en route to potentially locate and disable the equipment before it was used to harm people or property.
- The vehicle was located with no damage done.
Let’s look at what should have happened:
When the Motorcoach left the spot location, the drivers should have immediately taken action to:
- Let the customer know what was happening in a calm and controlled manner to keep them in the loop as it affected their needs.
- Immediately called the manager/dispatcher to notify them of the situation.
- Load the passengers as best they could and continued on with the run as needed to meet the customer needs.
- Wait patiently for replacement equipment to arrive to facilitate the rapid recovery of the customer needs.
When the manager/dispatcher was notified of the situation, the manager/dispatcher should have immediately taken action to:
- Enact the emergency response plan that every organization has.
- Contact the authorities to inform them that a stolen CMV was traveling the city so that the authorities could react accordingly to prevent a potentially deadly action from occurring.
- Deploy replacement equipment to provide the customer needed transportation.
- Locate the equipment with all available tools, specifically GPS.
- Report the information to the proper authorities or emergency response plan representative.
- If the equipment was equipped with telemetry devices, and the ability to disable the equipment was enabled, disable the equipment remotely before it could be used to cause harm.
- Document the entire incident in detail, to include times, names, phone numbers and descriptions of events in case or investigation or litigation.
To wrap up this event description, all readers should remember to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Also, every driver who is responsible for CMV equipment needs to balance customer service with responsibility and awareness to protect not only your passengers and company. The public at large could be harmed with equipment that is stolen and used as weapons in crowded streets.
Please take a moment to place yourself in this event description and reflect on the scenario that is was YOUR vehicle that was stolen and used as a weapon. Please also consider what you might have done in this situation, and what your actions could have unnecessarily exposed your personal safety too.
Thanks for taking the time to review this information. Please make sure to drive safely and be vigilant at all times with your equipment and passengers. If you have not already done so, please go to your employee portal and complete your DHS Anti-Terrorism Training modules to help you identify potential threats and what to do in case you encounter a potential threat. How we choose to handle these situations has greater effects than may be immediately apparent.
Special thanks to the TSA for reviewing this information, please be on the lookout for new training based on this event.