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Five Ways Thieves Cheat at the Truck Scale

Imagine being robbed of millions of dollars, but having no idea when or how it happened. That is exactly what happened to a major international bulk goods manufacturer. They were robbed of $2 million dollars in product over several years, all from the truck scale.

Cheating at the truck scale is a disturbing trend, and it is surprisingly easy. This type of theft comes in many forms, and without the proper protection, you could be putting your trust in weight readings that are a cheat, costing you tons.

What are you doing to ensure your business is safe from fraud and theft at the scale? We’re here to help you by sharing five common ways thieves cheat scales, along with solutions you can use to prevent it from happening to you.


Cheat #1: Improper Positioning

The most common way to cheat a truck scale is the simplest - improper positioning of the truck on the weighbridge. If the weigh station is unattended or busy, a truck can drive onto the scale leaving a set of back axles off, or pull far enough forward that the front axles are past the scale. If guide rails are not present on a pit foundation scale, the truck can also pull slightly off the side of the scale, altering the weight. This will provide a deceptively-light weight reading, which a driver may want if they are purchasing goods - essentially stealing product right from the scale.

Another instance would be a driver that wants to weigh heavy, especially if they are selling their product to you. This can again occur at weigh stations that are unattended or busy. A truck will pull fully onto the scale, creeping toward the very front of the weighbridge. The next truck driver in line will then pull their front axles onto the scale, creating a deceptively-high weight reading. The first driver will receive a ticketed weight for a net load that is more than the actual goods being received, robbing the business and driving away completely unnoticed.

How can Cech help you combat this cheat? With a few simple additions to a truck scale, you could save thousands. Gates, loops, photo eyes, and license plate capture can work together or individually to deter theft at the scale. We also offer software that can identify discrepancies in inventory levels, notifying key users.

Cheat #2: Load Cell Tampering

This kind of cheat can go undetected for months. The most common method is a device added at a point in the system, which allows the weight to be increased or decreased to the truck drivers’ benefit. These devices can be purchased online, and are typically used by drivers that do business with the same operation regularly. The driver will return to the scale at night, install the device, and continue to cheat until the device is discovered. Analog scales are more susceptible to this style of tampering because they do not have a breach-detection system, unlike some digital load cells.

How can Cech help you combat this cheat? Consider upgrading your load cells to POWERCELL® PDX®. These load cells offer secure breach-detection technology that will alert the scale owner at the first sign of tampering or damage, and can even pinpoint exactly what cell has been compromised.

Cheat #3: Lightening the Load

This type of cheat is most common at sites with two-pass transactions and when there is some distance between the scale and where loading or unloading occurs.

With a delivery cheat, a driver arrives with a fully loaded truck plus additional hidden weight on the truck - often a drum of water or an extra passenger in the cab. After the initial weight has been taken and the driver is out of sight of the scale house, the additional weight is expelled. Now when the driver goes back to take their outbound weight, their net weight will read up to 400 pounds more than it really was.

With a pick-up cheat, the driver arrives with additional hidden weight on the truck to increase the initial tare weight. Once out of sight from the scale house, that additional weight is expelled. Now when the driver goes back for their outbound weight, the empty weight was recorded as heavier, so the driver is receiving additional pounds of goods that were not paid for.

This type of scale theft can repeatedly go undetected without proper protection.

How can Cech help you combat this cheat? We offer a data-management program with hundreds of features. One feature specifically helpful to this scenario is tare-weight storage. All information about a truck is recorded, from the first time they arrive at an operation. Regular or random tare-weight checks can be set up to catch any abnormal fluctuation in tare-weights. An additional feature is the option to set a time limit for how long the driver has between the first and second weighment. If this time limit is exceeded, the driver will be flagged.

Cheat #4: Disappearing Goods

Sometimes employees decide they want a raise and steal to get it. For example, they’ll steal a small amount of product from each load and dump it at a secret location they can return to later. They weigh in at the factory with a slightly less amount than they left with, and it goes unnoticed. Stealing such a small amount will only make them a small amount each week, but over time it can add up to tens of thousands each year. Imagine multiple drivers doing this with a more expensive product, the amount of theft can add up quickly.

How can Cech help you combat this cheat? The solution is simple: accurate weighing! Having a truck scale at both weighing locations ensures no room for theft at the scale. POWERCELL® PDX® technology can provide industry-leading accuracy and give you confidence that the weight taken is the true weight. When paired with our software, communication between the two weighing locations is instant. If a driver weighed in less than their first weigh, the difference would be caught immediately. This kind of accuracy is a valuable theft deterrent.

Cheat #5: Altering Data

This is the most direct type of cheat. Sometimes a scale-house attendant will work with drivers to alter data to the drivers’ benefit, and the attendant will get a cut of the profits. Some smaller operations still rely on hand-written tickets, which makes it even easier to falsify weights.

Another type of data altering can occur if the software used is insecure and susceptible to hacking. Some programs are less secure and can easily be accessed by hackers, going undetected in most cases.

How can Cech help you combat this cheat? DataBridge™ software is the answer to all data-altering cheats at the scale. A secure system is critical to your business. Any data altering that is done within the system is tracked. So if a scale-house attendant alters data maliciously, the software documents it. Employee knowledge of these tracking systems is an effective deterrent to these crimes.


Criminals have been using these tactics to cheat truck scales for years. This crime is growing rapidly and can be surprisingly easy to accomplish, especially when nothing is done to prevent it. Fortunately, Cech is here to help with fraud prevention solutions to ensure your company is protected. Don’t let criminals take advantage of the business you’ve worked so hard to build. Reach out today and let us help you prevent fraud at the truck scale.

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