March 1st, 2013
A UPS DRIVER’S SUGGESTIONS FOR SHIPPING FIREARMS
As a gun owner and an 11-year UPS driver, I get a lot of questions from people regarding the safest way to ship and insure firearms through UPS. Theft of firearms and other items by UPS employees, ‘though rare, unfortunately does occur, but there are a lot of surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to virtually guarantee that you won’t be a victim. Please pass this information along to anyone who may benefit from it.
There are two things that cause thefts from UPS – pilfering and over-labeling. Pilferers are mostly thieves of opportunity. Handguns, jewelry, cameras, and prescription narcotics are their favorite targets because they are easily identifiable and can quickly be shoved into a pocket or inside of a shirt, due to the SMALL SIZE of the packages they come in.
The red and black “adult signature required” (ASR) labels that are legally required to be placed on these packages are often a dead giveaway. These labels are also called “steal-me sticker,” because thieves look for them. Most UPS facilities are fenced, and employees’ belongings are subject to searched exiting, so the size of the item is critical.
The BEST way to protect your handgun is to simply put it in a big box. One gunsmith on my route “disguises” his handguns by putting them in used Amway boxes! This works VERY well. Look at the box you are shipping your handgun in. If you can stick it inside your pants or under your shirt easily, it is vulnerable. As far as the ASR labels, you are required by law to have them on firearms shipments. What many customers don’t know, however, is that they can get a more discreet ASR label that is incorporated into the UPS tracking label. These are better because the words “adult signature required” are very small and unnoticeable. More importantly, this barcode will electronically “prompt” the driver at the other end to get a signature. In case he accidently tries to “release” the package on the customer’s porch without getting a signature. He will be unable to do so because the DIAD (that electronic clipboard that you sign) will read the barcode and will force him to get a signature in order to complete the delivery. You can order these special tracking labels through your Customer Service rep, or you can print them yourself with the UPS shipping software.
Another more sophisticated method of theft is “over-labeling.” This involves several conspirators who plan ahead and may get jobs at UPS for that very purpose. What they do is to print up a bunch of fake labels, with generic barcodes and phony return addresses, that are all addressed to a storage unit or apartment that they have rented in advance. One or more employees who are sorting and processing these packages will then slap the phony label over the authentic one, and the package will then proceed along its merry way to the “destination,” where an unsuspecting driver will deliver it to another accomplice who signs for it using a fake name. This will go on for a week or so until the thieves move on to another address to avoid suspicion. Since the original barcode is covered up, it is impossible to even trace these packages and they simply “vanish.”
The thieves who do this will also target handguns and jewelry but, since they are not trying to sneak it past a guard, they have the freedom to target larger packages, such as rifles, TVs, and computers. How do you avoid this?
It’s simple. You put an address label on ALL SIX SIDES of the box. A package so labeled will be passed up by a prospective thief, since he must now try to cover up six labels instead of only one. This is too risky, since the areas where these packages are sorted are often under electronic surveil-lance. If you are a gunsmith or store owner who ships UPS, and the package you are shipping is worth over $1000, inform the driver who picks it up and have him initial the pickup record. These “high value” packages are audited and are segregated from other packages. They are not sorted or run over conveyor belts, and they are subject to a chain-of-custody type of procedure that will prevent their being stolen. I feel 100% safe in saying that a handgun that is shipped in a larger-than-normal box of good quality, with a discreet ASR barcode, and with address labels on all six sides will NEVER get stolen or lost.
It’s unfortunate that a few of the 16 million pieces a day that we ship are in danger of being stolen but, if you take these simple precautions, you won’t be a victim.