My company was contacted by a very large worldwide haulage company. They suspected a driver was up to something with regards to his tyres as he had replaced 7 in the space of a month!
We were instructed to observe the vehicle and when the driver stopped overnight, to see what was happening and how he was conducting his vehicle checks in the morning. The company suspected he was in cahoots with the local tyre company who supplied their tyres. It was believed they may be running a scam whereby the client company was being invoiced for tyres that weren’t being replaced.
We had a similar operation with this company about 8 years ago concerning their suspicions of diesel theft. At that time we identified 5 drivers who, when filling up their trucks with diesel, were also filling 25 litre drums. Upon returning to the depot they were removing the drums to the boots of their private vehicles. Anyway, I digress, back to the tyres matter.
On a cold winter night, we sat in a layby on the A14 and waited for the client company vehicles to pass. We had been told which vehicles would be out overnight. Surveillance upon trucks has become much easier in recent years. In the past you could be waiting for hours for a subject vehicle. For this matter the client had given us all the log in details for their telematics, so we knew that we could time this to perfection and within 30 minutes the first lorry passed by.
We tailed the lorry and eventually it pulled over into an overnight truck stop at approximately 22.30 hours. We parked in a bay so that we could maintain observations of the vehicle and the driver. As time passed a further 3 lorries belonging to the client company pulled in at the same truck stop. They all seemed to have their designated stops by company name.
We didn’t have to wait long as at approximately 23.15 hours a large white Mercedes Sprinter van arrived and approached the driver of the first vehicle to arrive and started to talk. At 23.30 hours, the male from the Sprinter van changed 2 tyres on the truck. Following which we then observed something being passed to the truck driver and the male in the Sprinter van left. We had managed to record all of this from our vantage point, but weren’t sure what exactly was happening.
We sat tight and when the driver had bedded down for the night we took a walk around the lorry. It was noted that the 2 tyres that had been changed were in a very poor state, not quite illegal but close!! A long night followed and the male in the Sprinter van returned at 04.25 hours and did exactly the same to another vehicle from a different company!
In the morning, we made our way to the shower area once we had seen a couple of lorry drivers head that way, to engage in conversation. What we were about to uncover was quite unbelievable. We found out that the guy in the Sprinter van gave the drivers £100 cash per tyre and replaced them with poor condition ones. Further research revealed that an average price for a brand new tyre was between £275 - £325.
Many 1 owner or small fleet operators with up to 5 vehicles will buy part worn tyres for their vehicles at approximately £20 per mm, so a tyre with 10mm of tread will cost £200. If you take off the £100 for the initial outlay, the man in the white van was quids in especially if he was doing 4/5 tyre swops a night. Don’t forget he disappeared for a while so maybe headed to another truck stop!
We observed the client company’s vehicles for a further 3 weeks and had to report back to them that 2 other drivers were doing the same. This of course matched up with the company records of low tyre wear reported by the drivers. All tyres that had originally been changed by the male in the white Sprinter van were then changed within 3 months by the client company, who didn’t realise they had such a huge problem.
Article submitted by Full Member F1819 Barry Parker of De Sudor Investigations Limited. For further info see: www.desudor.co.uk