Back in the late summer of 1974, I was working in the Central Dispatch office of Spring City, PA-based Jones Motor. We didn't have the operating authority to serve the Philip Morris plant at Richmond, but a couple of R J Reynolds facilities in North Carolina were good customers. The product invariably had to be shipped to bonded warehouses where the tax stamps for the state in question could be applied.
One Friday, a solid load of "smokes" left our Roanoke, VA terminal (after forwarding from Greensboro, NC) for our terminal at Lebanon, PA, from which it would have been relayed to its destination. Most of our drivers using I-81 made a rest stop at Stephens City, VA, and this man was no exception. Unfortunately, when he pulled up at the town's major intersection, he was met by armed men, blindfolded, and stashed in a waiting auto.
About six hours later, the driver was released unharmed on a city steet in Brooklyn and the empty trailer was loacted nearby. The release, and a subsequent phone call from the driver, came in before the guys at "Central" noticed that the load was overdue. A policy of regular call-ins and diguising the identity of high-value shipments when addressing them over the "long lines" was quickly implemented, but it was a case of locking the barn door after the horse had fled.
The perpetrators were later identified, arrested and convicted. Popular folklore is that corrupted dispatchers sometimes "finger" loads of easily-disposed-of freight, but the issue was never raised. It's more likely that the carrier and trailer number could be discerned by anyone with a view of the loading dock.
My personal view is that current rail operating practices would probably make loads like that one much harder to hijack if handled by a technology such as RoadRailer, and picked up, assembled and delivered at secure facilities.
Last edited by 2nd trick op on Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What a revoltin' development this is! (William Bendix)