Thanks to KTOGers Rafael Pondoc and William Bell for providingthis information. They aren't the authors, but wanted pass theinformation along. This was originally posted on another gunlist. Unfortunately, we don't know who the author is to givehim/her proper credit.
Theft of firearms and other items by common carrier employees,though rare, unfortunately does occur but there are a lot ofsurprisingly simple and inexpensive ways to virtually guaranteethat you wont be a victim. Please pass this information along toanyone who may benefit from it.
There are 2 ways that things can get stolen through commoncarriers...pilfering and over labeling. Pilferers are mostlythieves of opportunity. Handguns, jewelry, cameras andprescription narcotics are their favorite targets because theyare easily identifiable and can quickly be shoved into a pocketor inside of a shirt due to the SMALL SIZE of the packages theycome in. The red and black "adult signature required"(ASR) labels that are legally required to be on these package areoften a dead giveaway.They are also called "steal mestickers" by thieves. Since allot of common carrierfacilities are fenced in and require employees belongings to besearched upon exiting, the size of the item is critical. The BESTway to protect your handgun is to simply put it in a big box. Onegunsmith "disguises" his handguns by putting them inused Amway boxes!! This works VERY well. Look at the box you areshipping your handgun in...if you can stick it inside your pantsor under your shirt easily, it is vulnerable.
As far as the ASR labels go, you are required by law to havethem on firearms shipments. One common carrier UPS, offers forexample, a "discreet" ASR labeling that is incorporatedinto the tracking label. These are better because the words"adult signature required" are very small andunnoticeable. More importantly, this barcode will electronically"prompt" the driver at the other end to get asignature...if he accidentally tries to "release" thepackage on the customers porch without getting a signature hewill be unable to do so since the DIAD (that electronic clipboardthat you sign) will read the bar code and will force him to get asignature in order to complete the delivery. You can order thesespecial tracking labels through your Customer Service rep, or youcan print them yourself with the UPS shipping software.
Another more sophisticated method of theft is "overlabeling". This involves several conspirators who plan aheadand may get jobs at common carriers for that very purpose. Whatthey do is to print up a bunch of fake labels, with generic barcodes and phony return addresses, that are all addressed to astorage unit or apartment that they have rented in advance. Oneor more employees who are sorting and processing these packageswill then slap the phony label over the authentic one, and thepackage will then proceed along its merry way to the"destination" where an unsuspecting driver will deliverit to another accomplice who signs for it using a fake name. Thiswill go on for a week or so until the thieves move on to anotheraddress to avoid suspicion. Since the original bar code iscovered up, it is impossible to even trace these packages andthey simply "vanish". The thieves who do this will alsotarget handguns and jewelry, but since they aren't trying tosneak it past a guard they have the freedom to target largerpackages such as rifles, TV's and computers.
How do you avoid this? Its simple...put an address label onALL 6 sides of the box. A package so labeled will be passed up bya prospective thief, since he must now try to cover up 6 labelsinstead of only one. This is too risky, since the areas wherethese packages are sorted are often under electronicsurveillance.
UPS offers the following service, when a package you areshipping is worth over $1000, then inform the driver who picks itup and have him initial the pickup record. These "highvalue" packages are audited,segregated from other packages,they are not sorted or run over conveyor belts, and they aresubject to a chain-of-custody type procedure that will preventtheir being stolen.
I feel 100% safe in saying that a handgun that is shipped in alarger-than-normal box of good quality, with a discreet ASR barcode and address labels on all 6 sides, will NEVER get stolen orlost. Its an unfortunate that a few of the 16 million pieces aday that we ship via common carriers are in danger of beingstolen, but if you take these simple precautions you won't be avictim.