Who would work in Security?
How long are the shifts?
All of the stories here took place several years ago and during a time working for a number of different companies in this industry, quite a number of incidents happened, some good and some not so good and some quite amusing, you may decide which is which.
Most shifts in the Security industry are about twelve hours long, varying by an hour or so here and there, shop work security has its own time demands which are more suited to the shop/retail environment and are dictated usually by the customer/host retailer.
Shop work is simply in the opinion of the narrator one of the most boring aspects of security work, once you know your shop floor you walk it for almost the entire shift, sometime helping customers and occasionally passing the time of day with staff but not a great deal more, as well as very boring you also have to be very vigilant because shop lifters come in many guises, and it is well-known that the female shoplifter will often hide her stolen goods in the buggy under her child, age too is not a measure of the shop lifter.
In this article the narrator wants to relay the various job types and even more importantly some of the strange and varied things that can happen to the security officer in his/her day-to-day working life.
There have been rather more incidents than I am able to report, they are being withheld out of loyalty to a past employer and a number their customers.
All of these stories took place before the inception of the minimum wage law, although this law is not a cure totally for poor pay and often even worse working conditions, it does go quite some way to help those on very poor pay particularly in the security industry.
The driving of a security vehicle by one security officer relates that he drove his vehicle interspersed with a great deal of walking company sites, the shift pattern for this work was five shifts on and four days off then four shifts on and five days off.
During these shifts the time allotted to each was around fifteen hours per shift, and often in the course of those shifts there were other duties to perform as well.
The transportation of guards for shift changes to and from sites, sometimes a great deal of miles away from the patrol area. The guards had a great deal of responsibility too, they were also called upon to do things like opening up and closing down commercial premises as well as attending burglar alarm activations mainly monitored by their control room. Any other duties besides those specifically on their runs’ schedule often were in addition to their normal work load.
In short the only person who really had any true idea of the pressure that the security was under was the guards them selves. To get their full complement of visits to premises in and to do all of the other tasks on their schedule in such a time was very demanding indeed. There are no blue lights for the security guard and there are no special speeds at which he/she may travel, but he/she is expected to fulfil their duties in full by the shift ends. He/she are also very much just as liable to be fined for speeding as anyone else.
Getting it all out of PROPortion
There is a hierarchy in security with obviously the boss of the company and then there are sergeants and also supervisors.
There was one particular occasion when one of these supervisors had begun to get out of hand; almost all to a man of the security staff had a dislike and a reason to dislike this one particular supervisor.
He was obnoxious on the radio always trying to show the officers up and make fools out of them, using his rank and talking to them on the men’s mobile radios from the central station. He always had to try to make someone look small and he really did think that he was number one in the company.
One day I had asked a member of the management team on a site that we used to patrol in a patrol vehicle, could I possibly buy a piece of timber – 2”x2”x10’ for use as a clothes prop.
We had started the shift early one Friday night and only the administrative staff was left on the site, when I asked if I could buy a piece of timber he said no! You can have it for free.
I duly called in to the office via radio and said that I would be bringing a piece of timber back to the office whilst it was light, and that I had had it given.
Clever dick answered my radio message and said “Don’t bring anything off that site, even if you have had permission to do so.”
I argued a little about that decision but not too much since I was on the radio.
I then went back up to the office of the site agent and explained what the supervisor had said, so between us we conjured up a plan to enable me to keep the piece of timber.
The site agent wrote out a bill of sale for the material and signed and dated it, he said to take the timber back to the office and tell them that you have bought it and this is your bill of sale.
This I immediately did since the office was only a short distance from the site any way, when I took it upstairs the supervisor raised the roof, then he realised how stupid he had been when I produced a bill of sale, even so he still had his venomous rebuke and in front of two other guards who were on a rest period.
They winked and congratulated me behind his back and said “nice one” etc.
At the end of the shift when all guards were back and preparing to leave, they all as one came to me and said how good it was to see that clever so and so get his comeuppance.
The best thing though was the next evening when I went back to the site to leave a message for the chap who had sold me the timber, he had left the five pence piece on his desk with a note that read ‘I think this five pence is yours, I found it on my desk last night.’
Not a Pocket Full of Rye
On one occasion I had been looking after a site, I had done the first ever shift on that site and we were there because all of the companies had pooled together to protect themselves again theft and vandalism.
At weekend our orders were clear, unless a visitor has good reason to go onto the site and more importantly must have premises there, they will not be allowed on, until Monday morning when there are staff members in the companies of those who are paying for the security.
There had been one incident where someone had broken into a factory yet nothing had been stolen.
The problem was that when the boss of the company that had been broken into had got to work and then gone in his office, he still could not find anything wrong at all.
He did however discover when he put on his coat to go out, that someone had done the loveliest pooh in his coat pocket.
On that very same site one night I had a man come on in his car, he was accompanied by who I believe was his wife. The lady never said one single word during the incident that follows but she did grin and smile a lot.
This man must have been one of the most cantankerous people, he must have got out of his bed at the wrong side every morning of his life and found that there was a wall there; he demanded that I let him onto the site and that he had every right to be there.
He shouted and raised his voice at me and I must admit I found it rather difficult to hold my temper, the fact that I did probably infuriated him even more.
He told me in no uncertain terms that he was going onto my site and since his car was parked under my barrier I could not stop him from doing so.
What did stop him however was when I said, “That’s alright if you want to go down there after all I have said then just go ahead, one thing I must warn you of though” I added “When you come back you will find the barrier down and I do not intend to lift it until Monday morning at around five am.” This would have meant that he would have to have waited for about twelve hours and when he said that he would report me to my company I said, “This is the phone number if you want to ring them now and you may even use my phone to save you having to move you car.”
All the time his wife smiled and sometimes I though I actually heard her laugh but then control herself.
It did not take him long to back away from my barrier and turn around and disappear.
With Mates like Them and Ghostly Happenings
There is no doubt about it, almost all of those people who work nights especially those in security will tell you that they occasionally have what is known as the jitters nights, most of the time you just cope and get on with your job but sometimes you just don’t feel safe and you feel a little edgy and unsure.
Sometimes the slightest bang or noise will make you jump and some of the places you have to visit seem quite scary and more so at night.
If as one member of one of the companies told me, that school you visit had someone commit suicide in it and it is the window on your left just as you enter the gate.
A large metal gate that also squeaked when being opened and the area was very quiet and dark too.
You just could not stop your self looking up at that window.
Then there was the time when I was visiting an old and very large but empty factory premises, we had to be there for exactly one hour twice a night, there was no way you could get away with being there less time because you turned off the alarm when entering and back on again when finishing your patrol. The alarm timed you’re your patrols and it recorded it at the security monitoring station.
So you would open the main gate, park up your vehicle and walk the three hundred yards to the main office, then enter the building and turn off the alarm.
From there the first part of the patrol was to go upstairs from the reception area and all the way through the office section, then at the other end down the stairs into a section known as the metal store.
Now that metal store had a mind of its own and there were often noises that could not be explained. As well as the fact that it was exceptionally dark there too.
It felt as you walked the place that around any corner someone would jump out on you at any time.
After that area you moved onto the cardboard store, this was also quite dark too since there was no active electricity throughout the building you had to rely on your torch unless it was still light out side this would light it up a little.
If you knew your site fairly well then you only used a torch to check out specific things, you did not have it in use all of the time, since it could also serve to help if in a problem situation, say a burglar or some thief jumped out on you then a light shone into his eyes would give you time to take action to defend your self.
So I am walking in the cardboard store when all of a sudden there is a serious bang, being used to this sort of thing happening I looked about and could not come up with a reason for it. Later the next morning I went back to the office to sign off and I mentioned this to one or two of the others and they said that they too had experienced similar noises themselves.
From that night every time I went to that site there was a different drawing chalked on the blackboard on the wall of the cardboard store, things like gravestones and ghouls and all kinds of messages from the guard who had previously visited that site on the day shift, it was friendly banter but it just went to show that those noises were always on the minds of the other security guards when visiting that site.
What Was It If Not Supernatural?
The same site mentioned above but before the time it had closed down, gave me the strangest experience I have ever had.
As I have said before it was impossible for anyone to be on that site due to the alarm that was permanently set until a guard visited the site, there also as well were magic eyes on and around the loading bay.
Next to the loading bay ‘Here I have to be careful how I explain this without giving out too much information’ let’s call it a factory where a food product was packed for a government department, the food item had to be packed and kept in sealed tins so that it would last indefinitely.
The place I had to patrol within the main company area was right on the end of the loading bay, a sterile unit with strict rules about entry and clothing to be worn.
As you entered the small area were all of the employees clothes for work were kept, there were sinks to wash hands and also official footwear, to be worn at all times in the packing area.
After unlocking the Yale lock in the door I entered the sterile room and straight ahead was the conveyor with the packing stations, through there you turned left and into a small loading bay with pallets of production already packaged and further pallets of product to be packed.
I had checked out the clean area and then put on the light before going into the packaging area, looked around and then onto the pallet area, this would hold roughly only about eight standard sized pallets. In the pallet area I again looked about to check for anything out of the ordinary, the smell of burning etc and all of a sudden in the silence of the evening about twenty-one hundred the main loading bay door went up and with it there was a very funny grinding noise.
As the door went up I stood there and watched it with I must admit some serious worries going through my head.
You see it was impossible for anyone else to have done that because I had full control of the alarm system, not only that but the control box for the door was inside of the building with me and I was looking right at it.
After the door got to the limit of being fully rolled up to the top of the door way, I went outside and onto the loading bay to see if I could see any one or anything.
There was absolutely nothing out there, I stood on the loading bay, walked up to the other end looked and listened for about five minutes but nothing.
I decided to go back into the building back through the door that had just risen, my intent was to activate the door and make sure it was back down then lock up and call into our central station and tell them what had happened.
Just after getting back to the loading bay and before I could turn around to operate the switch to lower the door it lowered itself.
Not I am very much an unbeliever of the supernatural but it had me fooled then and it still puzzles me even today, just what did cause that to happen.
When I eventually finished my shift and went back to the office to book off I told of my experience, from there on ever man who visited that place did so but always hated having to go to the place.
I tell you the part of me that banged together that night would have been a very difficult part of my anatomy to put an elastoplast on.
Not many days after the aforementioned incident I was walking the old factory area which by now had been totally cleared of any stock or raw materials.
Where the main machinery area was you had to walk out from the metal store under a small brick arch and into the main factory.
I had just almost completed my patrol of the main area just before going onto the loading bay and then into what used to be the food packing area. It was exactly three minutes to 5-o-clock when I stood under that archway; I intended to wait for a short while since I had completed my patrol in a fairly short time, I was listening to the always strange noises that seemed to emanate from this very lonely and empty place when all of a sudden there was the loudest noise I have ever heard. Just imagine if you can given that the old factory area was enormous and it used to be full of very noisy presses weighing several tons each, used to punch out metal components,
Just above the arch that I was stood under was a Claxton horn and it was announcing that the shift was over. Believe me it made me jump. It frightened the bloody life out of me so much that I ran to my next section of the patrol and if I did it too early then so what!
Dog Handling Jobs
One time I looked after one of the schools whilst it was being built, during that time I somehow got involved with dog handling and since the site required to also have a dog on it at night, guess who was called upon to do it.
You know its funny but when you walk with a dog, even though it is straining at the leash and clearly it weighs almost as much as you, what is it about people who try to stroke your working dog.
Working dogs are not pets, they often don’t take kindly to people whether they appear friendly to them of not, whether they are illegally on their site or just being walked around the perimeter of the site.
On one such time while walking around the very large perimeter of the site I had been given duty to look after, a girl walked up to the dog and put out her hand to stroke it.
The dog went absolutely potty and it took me all my time to hold him back, perhaps had I not he may well have eaten her, well working dogs get fed after a shift and not before.
The same sort of thing happened once whilst walking one of the universities, a group of young people walked up to the both of us and almost as one they stuck out their had to stroke the dog, not as said before a sensible thing to do, never trust a dog you don’t know and don’t always have faith in those you do because they have a mind of their own and moods too.
Another dog incident was when two of the company supervisors were messing about in the yard on my return to base after a shift.
The dog I had on that occasion was to be honest my favourite, he always obeyed instantly and he looked the part of a guard dog, he had the biggest head and he could almost pull a house down, the other guards used to take the Mickey out of him and said things like “he is no good and what a rubbish dog and god he is ugly” etc etc.
Well I am back in the yard and opening the van door to let the dog out to return him to his kennel and to feed him, as I am doing this two of the supervisors have given me a mouthful with a view to denigrating my dog and then messing about one of them jumped onto the others back, my dog saw this as a threat to me and he was off and after them.
The dog grabbed hold of first one of the men’s legs and then he let go and grabbed the other mans arm, he must have bitten them both hard because the next thing I heard was please get it off us, I must admit I thought for a couple of seconds about letting the dog get his own back and then I called him off, this he did immediately without waiting one second.
After that little incident I found that I could not find anybody who would call him or take the you know out of him.
My final dog story involved one of the other guards’ dogs; I used to use him when his owner was on days off.
I was riding patrol past this car site when I noticed my mate whose dog I used when he was off stood talking to someone in the yard of this big car sales place.
When I first so him I wondered if he was having bother so I went around the other side of the site and came upon them out of their eye line.
For some reason the dog was running free around the large area of for sale cars and at first I could not see him, I knew he was supposed to be with my mate because he had his lead in his hand.
As soon as I walked up to my mate I asked if he was alright and he said yes ok we are just chatting.
Only probably two minutes had passed by the time I looked up and my mates dog was on the main road walking the pavement, I said bloody hell you should get him back here and he called him but he took no notice whatever.
Moments later a police panda patrol car came onto the corner of the street and obviously the police officer had noticed this great big Rottweiler wandering the pavement and he had stopped, the mistake he had made was to stop with his passenger window down and before he knew it the dog was up and his head was through his window.
I said to my mate good god call him back look what he is doing and he called, problem was the dog still did not take any notice of his calls what so ever.
I called him and he come running back to me leaving the police officer in the passenger seat wondering where the hell he had come from and what he would have had to do about the dog with it’s head stuck through his car window.
My mate was not a happy bunny because the dog came back to me and sat by my side waiting for me to issue a further order. My mate said very unhappily “Hey he’s my bloody dog not yours” so I said in reply “well train him better than me and he will obey you too.”
Stop and Search
I was sent to a job where I was asked to get there about fifteen minutes before five-o-clock.
The company had been losing a lot of stock and tools and they want me to carry out a spot check, I had to search all bags and vehicles if parked in the company area.
I had been talking to the man who worked in the shop so as not to be outside because this would alert the employees as they left for home.
The boss of the company came into the shop and gave me a right mouthful even when I explained that I had only been there for about five minutes. I had told him that I didn’t want people to see me and that if they did they would simply dump whatever they may be taking before they left the premises.
The boss was a right gobby and so full of him self it is a wonder he needed me or anyone all to help him find his missing stock.
Since he had spoken quite out of turn to me he had drawn the attention of the man in the shop to the purpose of my being there.
I said if you would like later on to continue this conversation then I will come back here when I have done my spot checks, meanwhile I asked him if he would please stay in the shop so that the shop keeper did not leave and let the others know what I was about to do., at least to that he agreed.
I went out side I must admit to not feeling very happy since I had done exactly as instructed by my supervisor.
I carried out searches of both men and women, not body searches but bag searches and I looked to see if they seemed to be hiding anything about their person.
I did not come up against any opposition with regard to the search what so ever.
As I finished what seemed to be the last of the employees I noticed a van parked up and backed up to the factory door. I asked the driver what he was doing and he said loading up for his regular trip to the south bank.
I asked him if he had notes for the materials he was removing from the factory and he said yes for some of it, I asked him for what part of the load he was referring and he said that stuff over there near the back board to the driver’s seat.
I found out that he never had noted for all of the stock that he takes to the south bank, it seems that was the usual practice. So I said to the driver “So if you wanted you could almost put anything onto your vehicle and nothing said.” He had said that yes that was the usual thing that happened; stock went to the south bank without any paper work at all.
Soon after the last of the employees had left the work place I left the vehicle driver and returned to the shop.
I asked the boss if as the driver had said, it was normal to load up for the south bank without paper work for stock and he said that’s right.
I said you must trust your driver implicitly to let him load up by himself and to take stock without any form of documentation. The boss replied yes he did and that it had been the practice for a long time now. I put it the boss that I would not be doing my job if I let such a poor practice go by without mentioning it to him, since he was the one paying for my services.
Did he feel stupid, he went quite red and he did not know what to say to me but it did serve him right because he had been so rude to me in the first place.
Watching the Cars and Vans
On this occasion I had been called to a place to look after a lot of parked cars in an area where the public had easy access, there had been a massive spate of damage to the vehicles and a great number of thefts from them too.
The company who hired a guard unfortunately had two separate managers and the most annoying thing about them was they just could not make up their mind where they wanted the guard to be stationed.
I had been told on this occasion that I should take a van and park up amongst the vehicles that I was supposed to be protecting; I had a built-in radio in the vehicle and a hand-held radio too.
Finally after being told to go here and park up by the male manager and then the other female manager told me to park in a different place, I just did not know what to do for best.
Eventually I spoke to both who unfortunately were so full of their own importance they barely listened to what I was telling them.
One had told me to park in a place where I simply could not see more than half of the vehicles; the male then told me I was in the wrong place and to move right down to the other end of the car park, I tried that too but I could not see the vehicle that I had been told were the most vulnerable. In the end I parked my vehicle in amongst the other parked cars right in the middle of the park, I turned my radio on to make sure that anybody with an intent to cause damage could probably hear it, that should help I though.
I had been sat in my van watching people passing through the car park for more than two hours when all of a sudden I spotted two men further down the park from me and they seemed to be bobbing up and down, it soon became clear that they were actually walking on the car roofs and bonnets.
As they got neared to my van I could hear them saying thing like “Only f*****g” rich people can afford these B*****ds any way” and quite a lot more of this type of colourful language went from one to the other.
I called in to my central station very briefly on my van radio and then I was about to get out of the car when these two idiots came to my van door.
They were both clearly very drunk and most of what they were saying to me sounded gibberish, one thing I could clearly understand though was the threats to my person.
I will not write here the amount of expletives generated by these two less than normal human beings but what they intended for me was very clear. I sat there trying to talk to these two and as I did I pressed the key on my microphone and called in our emergency call then released the microphone key and continued to try to talk to them.
Eventually they seemed to calm down and became a little more pleasant toward me and then they asked me what was I doing there anyway, to which I replied there have been a number of cars damaged here over the last two weeks or so and I am here because of that.
After what they had done they then began to get more agitated and the threats started again so I said that I had seen them walking on the cars, I then said I hope you were smiling while you did it so that the cameras got a really good shot of you both.
With that said they both shouted back at me as they ran away, “thanks mate we won’t come in here again that’s for sure.”