Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Security

Are you confused by shipping container security methods?

Whether you’re using a shipping container in your business or home renovation project, security is an important factor.

Cargo theft costs the shipping and logistics industry, as well as consumers and retailers, over $22 billion dollars.

A report by CargoNet in 2010 found that cargo theft costs 10x more than the actual goods that have been stolen.

Shipping Container Security
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

As shipping containers rise in popularity for alternative building materials, ensuring that your stuff is safe and secure is critical.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll look into the many ways that you can secure your shipping container. This includes:

  • The popularity of cargotecture
  • Why you should secure your container
  • Different types of locks
  • Does your container need security?

Let’s get started!

The Rising Popularity of Cargotecture


When you hear cargotecture – using shipping containers as building material – you may initially think of tiny homes or container homes.

However, these aren’t the only construction projects that have used shipping containers. We’ve written another ultimate guide about cargotecture that explores this.

Containers themselves come with standard locks, usually to help secure the cargo that’s being shipped.

And while this level of security may work for your container, it all depends on what you’re using it for.

Why You Should Secure Your Container


We mentioned that cargo theft is major challenge for the shipping and logistics industry, but what about businesses or homeowners that use containers?

Should they also be concerned with security?


Recently, the National Equipment Register conducted a holiday report for Thanksgiving 2020 that showed a rise in equipment theft.

National Equipment Register Theft Trend Report
National Equipment Register Holiday Report

Losses during the Thanksgiving holiday have cost businesses a total value of over $4 million dollars.

Businesses and homeowners using ISO steel containers, in whatever capacity, should always ensure the safety of both the container and their items inside.

Let’s look at some different types of container locks and other methods of security.

Types of Shipping Container Security Locks and Systems


The cargo doors on many shipping containers automatically come with a locking mechanism that secures items within.

Shipping Container Security

Double doors on conex boxes have steel bars, along with a cam and lock system that help to keep the doors closed shut.

The handles have two purposes – one to allow the opening of the door and the second to lock the doors in place.

This is the normal, standard lock that comes with a shipping container and as we mentioned before, can work in certain situations.

For example, if you’re using a container that will be on a secured lot or away from any public foot traffic, this type of lock can work fine.

Let’s look some addition shipping container security locks.


Latch guards

Latch guards are familiar sights on doors. They are the metal plates that cover any exposed latch to keep them from being tampered with.

Many businesses and homes have latch guards to prevent unknown individuals from entering.

Here’s a great video that goes over the different types of latch guards:


Code Protected

As technology grows, so do the advances of what we can do with it.

This is especially true with code protected keypad locks. These locks allow you to set a specified code that must be entered to unlock.

Code Protected Smartlock from Igloohome
Igloohome Smart Padlock

Many of these locks are smart locks, meaning you can also control the lock and other settings via a smartphone app.



As mentioned earlier, shipping containers do come with a locking mechanism that can help keep the doors secure.

An added part to this is the cargo lockbox.

A lockbox conceals the actual lock, preventing criminals from tampering or trying to pick the lock.

Lockboxes can also be installed on containers that use roll up doors, called roll door lockboxes.

Now that we’ve looked at the different types of locks, let’s consider if your shipping container needs security locks.

Does My Shipping Container Need Security?


You may think your shipping container doesn’t need security. And it might not.

As stated earlier, depending on what you are using the shipping container for or the location your container will be in, the standard lock should be fine.

But shipping container safety should be a consideration for all container projects.

This is especially true for projects that will be using containers as alternative buildings, such as restaurants, offices, or homes.

A Shipping Container Building in Chile
Photo by Patrick Minero on Unsplash

But shipping container security is more than just getting a lock and putting it on the container door.

While we’ve shown some of the different types of locks, there are three considerations you should take when choosing one:

  1. Resistance to weather – like the container itself, a security lock should also be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. Invest in a proven and tested weatherproof security lock.
  2. Security rating – in the US, Underwriters Laboratories provides a security rating for the most common locks. These ratings also include electronic locks. Group 1 is the highest level that offers the most resistance to manipulation and is often required for use for sensitive government applications.
  3. Protection from drilling – drilling into a lock is one of the most common techniques criminals use to break into shipping containers. Heavy duty locks are designed to stop this by having one or more metal stop plates to prevent the lock being drilled.

Other ways to protect your shipping container is by setting up defenses around the container, such as:

  • Exterior lighting around the container, just dusk to dawn lighting or motion sensing lights
  • Perimeter fencing, especially if you’re using a shipping storage container for business purposes
  • Security cameras, which can also work with exterior lighting
  • Window locks, meshes, or covers
  • An alarm system, which in some cases will also come with exterior lighting and security cameras

In this guide, we looked at shipping container security, covering the traditional use of security locks to ways to protect the entire container and the area it’s in.

Shipping container security is crucial for both businesses and residential. Security measures help to deter thieves and keep your stuff out of their hands.

If you’re looking to use shipping containers for your business or home project, contact us today by calling 800.686.9114 or fill out the contact form below.


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