This category covers establishments primarily engaged in providing detective, guard, and armored car services. Establishments primarily engaged in monitoring and maintaining security systems devices, such as burglar and fire alarms, are classified in SIC 7382: Security Systems Services.
Security Guards and Patrol Services
Armored Car Services
The security and investigations industry is a $100 billion business worldwide that has been in existence for at least 125 years. In the United States in 2006, approximately 23,000 businesses made up the $23 billion detective, guard, and armored car services industry. After years of relative obscurity, this industry was squarely in the spotlight after the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, bringing not just added attention but financing as well. Soon after, the newly formed Office of Homeland Security planned to bring $37.7 billion to this sector, while insurance companies formed mandatory standards for corporate security. Analysts put revenue expansion in this field at 4 to 9 percent annually, growing to over $48 billion by 2010.
Organizations and individuals within the security industry provide products and services, including video-surveillance services and equipment, security guard services, armored car services, corporate investigations, biometric identification and devices, and concertina wire. The industry has benefited from newer technology, including the Internet, but remains relatively primitive in terms of marketing its products and services, which usually are handled via word of mouth, direct mail, e-mail, print advertising, and industry conferences. Indeed, e-mail has become one of the most important advertising vehicles and the ongoing focus of many companies.
The industry was highly fragmented with a few large players and thousands of small companies. Combined, the top security services companies controlled about 69 percent of the market. According to U.S. statistics there were about 1,022,000 security guards working in the U.S. in the mid-2000s. Of these, 533,000 were considered contract guards that were employed by private companies and contracted out, and 489,000 were staff guards directly employed by entities as employees. Contract guard services represent about 30 percent of the security services industry, generating about $11 billion. According to Dun & Bradstreet, there were about 23,300 establishments primarily engaged in providing detective, guard, and armored car services in 2006. Combined, they employed an estimated 461,000 people. Security guard services held 22 percent of the industry, while detective and armored car services represented 13 percent.
Detective agencies provide investigative services. The area of investigation can vary widely, from uncovering corporate espionage to uncovering an unsavory episode in the background of a courtroom witness for the purpose of discrediting that witness. These enterprises range in size from small independent agencies to larger corporate businesses.
Business, industry, and government agencies all use guard services. Uniformed guards are hired to protect client property against theft, trespassing, vandalism, or to protect clients from physical harm. Some companies that provide guard services also provide security systems services (see SIC 7382: Security Systems Services). There are more than twice as many security guards in the United States as police officers.
Approximately 150 armored car services exist in the United States, some of which are subsidiaries of large corporations and others that are operated independently and may belong to the Independent Armored Car Operators Association. In addition to providing armed transport of cash between banking locations (for example, between the Federal Reserve Bank and bank branches), armored car companies also have what they call commercial accounts. These include food stores, restaurants, fast-food chains, department stores, and, potentially, any business that needs to move large sums of cash off site to a bank. Many armored car companies also have a money room, where money is stored temporarily and where services such as auditing deposits and processing orders for change are performed for client banks. In some cases, the cash may even move from a retailer to a money room, and then straight to the Federal Reserve, bypassing the retailer's bank altogether.
The money-courier industry is largely unregulated. There are no federal regulations covering who may transport money or how. Although the top companies use armored vehicles and try to screen out employees with criminal records, other companies may use ordinary minivans and do little to screen employees. Law enforcement officials, as well as officials within the industry, have charged that the lack of a government regulated licensing process, one which would require a thorough background check of potential employees, has bred an industry in which robberies are all too frequently "inside jobs."
U.S. manufacturers, in an attempt to prevent theft and counterfeiting of their patented products and ideas, are turning to private investigation firms for undercover operations. In one case, a female private detective was hired to apprehend those responsible for the theft from two major U.S. companies of proprietary plans for industrial compressors. A spokesperson for the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) estimated that theft of proprietary information costs U.S. and Canadian firms $20 billion each year. A survey of ASIS members revealed that theft of manufacturing process technology is on the rise. Another area of concern to U.S. industry is protection of pharmaceutical trade secrets.
An emerging field for private detective work is the investigation of environmental crime. This might involve tracing illegal industrial sewage discharge to the guilty party or conducting research to determine which companies had in the past disposed of toxic waste at a particular site. Another unfortunate field of opportunity for detective work is urban terrorism. This was the...