Sunday, December 30, 2007

Crime Really doesn't Pay

One evening, I walked into my office to see that a female officer already had a female suspect handcuffed. The officer told me the story of the arrest, then, she whispered to me that the suspect had a partner waiting for her by the front door. She winked and told me that the partner also had merchandise from our store based on the statement of her arrested friend.
I walked to the front of the store and, sure enough, there was a female fitting the description the officer had given me, sitting on a bench. I looked at her, and then I looked across the street and spotted a police car. I looked back at the female and you could tell she wanted to run. I walked over to her and whispered that her friend was under arrest and had informed us that she, too, had stolen merchandise from our store. Her eyes got big as saucers.
She asked me if she could give the merchandise back. Just as she was asking me that, the police officer returned to his car across the street. She grabbed me by the hand and told me that, not only would she give the merchandise back, but, she’d give me fifty dollars too, if I promised to let her go. Deal!
I walked back inside the store and grabbed one of our plastic bags. I told her to drop everything into the bag. She reached into her bag and dropped several items into my bag. Then I asked her if that was everything? She gave me a puzzled look and then she remembered the fifty dollars. She reached into her purse, took out two twenties and a ten dollar bill and dropped them into the bag. Satisfied, I told her to go and never return to the store, or, I’d arrest her on sight. She pretty much ran trying to get out of there.
Now the moral to this story is, crime really doesn’t pay, and sometimes it costs you, as in her case, fifty bucks. The real truth behind the story is this: since I and the female officer who arrested her friend had not actually observed the second female steal anything from the store, legally, there was nothing we could do. She easily could have told me to kiss her ass when I approached her on the bench, but she didn’t know if I could arrest her or not. There was no way I would have asked the police officer to check her bag, because, for one thing, they had better things to do and, for another, what if she had stolen nothing? Things could have gotten ugly.
When you’ve been at this for a while, you pretty much know when a person is an opportunist and not a professional thief. The first giveaway is that she stuck around after her friend got caught. The second was, she let me bluff her and wound up paying me to let her go, when, in reality, she was home free anyway.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My very first Security Job

I got out of the Air Force in Omaha, Nebraska, and my girlfriend was living in Hawaii. Before I had signed my last separation document, she’d already booked my airline ticket back to the Islands.
She made pretty good money, and, the first thing she said when I arrived, was for me to take some time off, relax, go to the beach and do some of the things I didn’t have time for when I was stationed in Hawaii.
My time off lasted about two weeks, I got bored; I missed working. Since I wasn’t really ready to join the police department, I figured I’d get a security job. I wanted to do something to put a little extra spending cash in my pocket.
The first place I went to was a company named Freeman Guards. I filled out an application; they issued me uniforms and a schedule, all in little over an hour. It was so quick; I had to ask the lady twice if I was already hired. I worked the same night in a high-rise building in downtown Honolulu.
The first night was uneventful, but, I did learn a few things about working as a guard. First, very few of the companies paid guards on Fridays. This was because, when they did pay employees on Fridays, no one came back to work until after they were broke or when the weekend was over, whichever came first.
I learned, whenever they told you that your relief was on the way, chances were, they weren’t. They were just stalling you while they were trying to find his replacement. This lesson I’d learned, firsthand, a couple of days later.
For my second assignment, they sent me to guard a nice house in Hawaii Kai. I arrived there just as it was getting dark. My relief met me at the gate. The house had been recently purchased by some wealthy Japanese businessman and although it probably didn’t need it, he’d decided to have it renovated before moving in. My job was to be fire watch until 6 am.
Not a bad assignment. I could read and walk down to the beach, and, basically, patrol the property which really didn’t need it because it had a ten-foot high fence all the way around. My first night went by fine. My relief arrived a few minutes before six o’clock and I went home to try and catch some sleep.
On the following shift, I started experiencing problems. My hours were from 10 pm till 6 am on a Friday. The night was cool. But, in the morning, it was 6:15 and no relief in sight. I called the control center, asked where my relief might be, and was told he probably was just running late. Ok, I’d give it a little more time.
At 6:30, he was still not there. I called the station and this time was told that he had a problem with his car and he’d be there to relieve me about 7 am. When I called at 7 am, I was told that he wouldn’t be able to make it and that they were trying to find someone to take his shift.
At 8 am, they called me back and asked me if I could possibly work till 10 am because the only person that could relieve me wouldn’t be able to get there until then. Also, they reminded me that the extra hours would be paid at time and a half.
Around 10:15, I called the control center and inquired about my relief. To my amazement, the operator I’d been talking with had been relieved. The new one had no idea what I was talking about.
After explaining the situation to her, she assured me that she’d find out who was supposed to relieve me, and, make sure they were on their way. She called me back an hour later and informed me that she had no idea who was going to relieve me, because the girl she relieved wouldn’t answer her phone. Of course, not only had the previous operator not informed her of the situation but she had also left no notes.
I was beginning to get frustrated, but she was so nice I allowed her to talk me into staying the complete shift. She too reminded me it was for time and a half pay.
To make sure they had found someone to relieve me at 2:00, I called the operator back at 1:45. She assured me that my relief would be there by 2:00 and how much she appreciated my working with them and covering the location. By this time, I was really starting to get tired, and I was past being bored.
At 2:15 pm, when there was still no relief, I called back to the operator. This time, I was not very nice. She assured me that all was well and someone was on the way. My stuff was packed and I was ready to go home.
At 3:00, the phone rang and it was a different operator. She was all nice and polite, and begged me to man the post until 4 pm. She told me she’d have someone from another post relieve me by then, to stay until that person had arrived. What the hell, I’d been here for 13 hours already anyway. What was one more?
Needless to say, no one arrived at 4 pm and when I called the number I had for the operator, no one answered. I couldn’t bring myself to just walk away; the military had drilled into us that you never ever abandoned your post!
I finally reached someone at 6 pm, a new operator again. She had no idea what I was talking about or even who the hell I was. It was at that moment I realized that civilians didn’t have the same standards as military personnel, and if I wanted to survive in the civilian world, I’d have to adapt quickly. I hung up the phone, grabbed my shit and left.
As I was locking the gate behind me, I heard the phone ringing. And I wondered, what new lie they’d made up to keep me there a little bit longer.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hotel Security Officer

My co-worker got arrested an hour before he was supposed to come to work. His wife had an accident right outside his home. When he went to check on her, the cops found that his car didn’t have any insurance and the registration was expired. So, instead of going to work, he went to jail.
With his only phone call, he called the hotel and told them he was sick. The next night, when he came to work, I asked him if he was feeling better. He laughed and then told me the story about getting arrested.
His biggest concern was whether the chief had said anything about the incident. I assured him; the chief had not, and inquired why he would say anything.
What happened was, he didn’t have the money to bail himself out that night. So, he stayed in jail overnight to see the judge the next morning. While waiting to be transported to court, he struck up a conversation with another inmate who also was going to court that morning.
He said the guy was really nice and they both laughed about being in jail. When the officers came, they handcuffed the prisoners to one another and since he was closest to the inmate he was talking to, the two were handcuffed together.
When they were taken outside, he noticed a large group of reporters and cameramen waiting by the fence. The whole scene was being filmed for the morning news. What he didn’t know was, the guy he was handcuffed to, had killed his wife a few days earlier and had just been captured that same night he was arrested.
He said he tried everything possible to hide his face because he was sure the chief would see him and know he wasn’t home, sick, like he’d said.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Junkyard Dog

My first guard job, when I came out of the Corps, didn’t last long. I was hired to work for a company in LA, and they sent me to guard a junk yard.
I was just out of the Corps, so, I was still a little bit eaten up. Regardless of the uniform I was wearing, I had to be all spit and polished. I arrived at the junk yard and reported to the owner. Man, was he an asshole. But, he was a former Marine, like me, and a Viet Nam vet to boot.
He took me on a quick tour of the compound and made sure that I paid special attention to his prized possessions. He had a small area that had nothing but old beat up Cadillac’s; there must have been thirty of them. He told me that he had people coming at night, stripping those Caddies, and my job was to make sure it didn’t happen again.
When everyone was gone from the lot and the night got late, it was a good opportunity to evaluate my situation. A month ago, I was a Marine Corps sniper; now, I was sitting in the middle of a junkyard working as a security guard. Damn!
I was depressed; here I was sitting in my car, and, hell, it looked right at home in this salvage yard. I had a .38 revolver but only three rounds of ammo. The radio the company issued me might or might not work in the event of an emergency. My flashlight stopped working shortly after I left home!
Somewhere in the middle of feeling sorry for myself, I fucking fall asleep. Can you believe it, falling asleep, my first night on the job? When I woke up, I heard the owner screaming something about those fucking Caddies! Hell, I knew I was fired, so I started my rusted out car and went home.
Later that day, while I was going through the want ads again, the guard company called me and said that the owner wasn’t as mad as I thought and they wanted me to go back to the junkyard again.
Shit, the classified section of the newspaper didn’t have a whole lot, so I figured I’d better do a good job this time or I might have to go work at McDonalds. When I arrived, the owner pretty much blew me off. Which was ok; I was lucky to be working.
This time, I stayed out of my car and made rounds of the compound like I was on patrol in the Corps. But by 1:00 am, I was tired. Then, I saw what appeared to be movement in the corner of my eye. Yeah, I thought I saw something; it was the shadows of three guys as they were climbing under the fence. They hadn’t seen me, so, I moved into the shadows to get the jump on them. I got to within about twenty feet of them and with my trusty .38 drawn, I shouted “FREEZE!” They froze alright, but not the two pit bulls they had with them. Those two dogs chased my ass through the compound and I was screaming like a bitch. Finally, I jumped up on some crushed cars and the dogs couldn’t get to me.
I was on that stack of cars until daylight, but, I didn’t know if they’d left yet. The whole night, I was trying to make contact with the guard service on the radio they’d given me. Piece of shit didn’t work!
The owner walked through the lot and he was cussing about his fucking caddies being stripped and how pissed off he was. He didn’t know that I was above him on some cars. I jumped down right in front of him and scared the shit out of him. Somewhere, he’d picked up my .38 that I’d dropped when the dogs chased me. Before he could say anything, I grabbed it out of his hands and ran to my car. This time I didn’t care if they fired me or not because I’d already made up my mind to quit!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ghost in the Darkness

Authors note* This incident happened in Hawaii and is one of my favorites.

We were assigned to Kunia Point Satellite tracking station on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii. It was about a thirty minute drive from our regular base. When you get there, there’s a guard shack at the bottom of the entrance near the beach.
The guard shack is usually manned by two DOD (Department of Defense) guards. We manned the top portion. From the bottom of the hill to the top, it takes about ten minutes to drive along a narrow winding roadway. Once on the top, the view is breathtaking; it’s beautiful.
On any given day, you could actually drive through the clouds. The point sits so high on the mountain top that the clouds cover it some days. The first time you see this, you feel like a kid. Walking in the clouds is something I’ll never forget; it feels damp, like fog.
Our job was to patrol the area on top which housed all the satellite buildings. They tracked everything coming and going from airplanes to missiles. It’s really a boring job once you get over the beauty of the place.
However, with all that beauty comes something else, and I learned it the hard way. One night, both the DOD guards called in sick; instead of just one security specialist, they sent two of us.
Since I had the higher rank, I assigned my co-worker to work the guard shack on the bottom of the hill and I took the top. I did this primarily because I wanted to get some sleep.
At the top, I found a clearing where I could park my truck. Then I prepared for some serious shut eye. But, for some reason, I couldn’t sleep and the wind kept blowing the truck back and forth. I don’t know why, but I also had an eerie feeling that I wasn’t alone. I rolled up the windows of the truck and locked the doors, and tried again to settle down for a little sleep.
I nodded off for about an hour, but, for some reason, I awoke. I remember looking at my watch, perturbed. It was only 0200 hours and I still had six hours to go before we’d be relieved.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement. Once I got my eyes focused, I observed a man on a black horse riding down the side of the mountain.
The crazy thing wasn’t that he was there; it was the strange way I reacted. I remember saying to myself, “What the hell is this idiot doing in a restricted area at two o’clock in the morning on a damn horse?” Then, I unlocked my door as the horseman got nearer, and I exited the truck. I looked over the truck and he was standing, still looking at me. I reached down to grab my m-16 rifle. When I lifted my head to check on him, he was gone! Disappeared!
Hell, I did the exact same thing. I jumped back into that truck and hauled ass. By the time I arrived at the gate shack at the bottom, the truck’s brakes were smoking.
I slid up to the gate shack and ran inside where my co-worker was busy typing out the shift blotter. I think I scared him by the way I came in because his eyes were big as mine. He later asked me what had happened. But I couldn’t tell anyone; I didn’t know how to explain it.
Later, when we got back to our regular base, I located my boss and requested that I return to the Point for the next several nights. I never told him why but he approved it. I had to know for myself if I’d actually seen what I thought.
One thing bothered me the most. When I replayed the image in my mind, I realized the man on the horse looked like one of the old Hawaiian Warriors from the paintings I’d seen. No shirt, a black cape and a wooden helmet.
The next night, I returned to the Point. This time, the two DOD guards were back. Before I headed for the top, I also checked out a pistol from the shack. This, with my m-16, made me feel a little better.
I was using an old patrol car since the truck, because of its brakes, was due for maintenance. After a little chit chat with the guards, I slowly made my way to the top of the mountain. I went back to the place where I’d seen the man on the horse. Of course, I saw nothing this time. So, I decided to make my rounds.
I was on my way up to the water tower when, off in the distance, in the bushes, I heard something moving toward me. The closer it got, the louder the sound became. I could tell it was big because the bushes were moving. I stopped the car and I knew I couldn’t get my M16 because it was under my legs. So, I was trying to get my revolver out, but, my seatbelt was over it. I was tried like hell to get that seatbelt off as this thing got closer and closer to the vehicle. I started screaming when it was a few feet away in the bushes and I kept screaming while I tried to pull my revolver out! All of a sudden, a large wild Hawaiian Pig came out of the brush. The pig ran across the road, in front of my car, and into the bushes on the other side. The thing was so damned big it had to have been four feet high to the top of his back. When it was all over, I almost fainted. In my mind, I thought something was really going to get me.
After that scare, I felt I needed some human companionship. I drove back down to the guard shack. The DOD guards were Hawaiian and they’d been working the post for a very long time. I told them about the pig incident and they were a little depressed because I didn’t shoot it so they could eat it. The rest of the night went without incident.
On the third night, the DOD guards called me to return to the gate shack because they wanted to talk to me. I returned and was told that they knew why I was there so many days in a row.
They said they knew I had seen something on the mountain. They also assured me that I wasn’t the only person ever to see something they couldn’t explain. I was told that the location was the point where spirits left this world for the next and that, sometimes, they didn’t go.
I guess I should have felt better but, actually, it made me feel a little more uneasy. I still had two more days at the point and the last thing I wanted was to see someone who refused to be where he was supposed to be.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Don't let your emotions turn you into a victim

Last week while on the way to work I received a call from my secretary. She was a little bit agitated and stated she was leaving work because the Police Department had called her and informed her that someone had attempted to break into her home.
I asked her a few simple questions in an attempt to calm her down to open her eyes to what she may or may not be getting herself into.
Question number one was: How do you know it was the police that actually contacted you?
Her Answer: Well that's who they said they were.
Question number two: Do you have a alarm system in your home?
Her Answer: No, I live in a nice neighborhood and we've never saw the need for one.
Question number three: If you have no system then there's no alarm company monitoring your home, how did the Police Department know how to reach you? Or that you live there for that matter?
I could hear the breaks of her car as she came to a screeching halt.
You see, sometimes we let our emotions put us into situations that could make us victims. We stop thinking and fall prey to whatever feelings we are experiencing at the time and react with no thought process to guide us.
I remember in the mid 90's when I worked in L.A. as a Security Police Officer in San Pedro. Throughout the city they were experiencing car jacking's. The car thieves had discovered a new trick and it was like a new toy to them. They played on the victims emotions to take their vehicles.
It worked like this, a couple of car thieves would drive around looking for the vehicle they wanted to take. Once they located the vehicle on the roadways they'd follow it until they found the perfect situation to spring their plan into action.
Usually this was at either a stop sign or a stop light. When the vehicle stopped for the signal, the car thieves would slowly bump into them from the rear. Not enough to do any real damage to the vehicle but hard enough to get the drivers attention. What is the first thing we do when someone hits our prized vehicle that we love so much?
We get out of the car because our emotions (anger, concern, arrogance in this case) stopped our ability to identify possible danger. Once the driver was out of the car to check on it, he immediately became a victim.
Back to my Secretary, she asked me what she should do because now I had her attention and that anger, agitation, frustration had suddenly turned into fear.
What if someone was trying to lure her to her home? Possible.
I told her that she shouldn't go to her home without finding out if it was the Police that had actually called her. She agreed.
Several minutes later she called me back and informed me that it had indeed been the local Police that had called her. There had been a couple houses on her street that had been broken into and the culprits had attempted to gain entry into her home by breaking a window. They didn't get inside but in the check of the surrounding homes the police had noticed the window.
They got her number from one of her neighbors and that's how they reached her.
In the end all was well, but most importantly she leaned two valuable lessons. The first being to never allow her emotions to place her in harms way. The latter being even though neighborhoods appear safe that doesn't mean they'll stay that way.
Protect yourself, your family, your home or your business. If you're not sure how, ask me I'll be happy to assist you in any way I can.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

ID for my 6 year old? Not!

A couple of days ago the kindergarten that my daughter attends sent her home with note stating that a company was to arrive the following week to create IDs for the students. The cost was minimal and at first glance I didn't give it a second thought.
My wife raised the issue to me and I looked over the note and observed that the name of the person originally whom was to create the IDs had been crossed out and a new name had been written in above it. A red flag immediately rose in my mind and the hair on the back of my neck stood erect as it tends to do when I have a feeling there is a security issue to be addressed.
The next morning I drove my daughter to school and after getting her situated into her class I went to speak to the Director. I inquired about the company that was going to come in to create the IDs for the student. The Director didn't know much about them other than the fact that they'd been coming in since the school had been built (4 years) and they'd had no problems with them.
She could tell I was concerned so she asked if something about the idea was troubling me? I informed her that indeed the idea bothered me, and the fact that she knew very little about the company had bothered me even more.
My problem was this, the school was exposing kindergarten aged kids to people they knew absolutely nothing about. The school had not conducted any background checks on the company or it's employees. When asked about the fact that the original photographer's name had been crossed out on the letter, I was told that the original person was sick and that she was sending someone else in her place.
Now, as a parent my job is to insure the safety of my child first and foremost. This includes controlling the amount of people, male and female whom have access to her at all times. In a school environment I expect everyone whom comes in contact with my child to have had some form of background check conducted.
Most people will probably think I overreacted but I'd much rather over than under react and my failure to act causes harm to my child.
Now for you that feel I did overreact let me share this with you. By allowing this company to come into the school the school was giving them access to many peoples sons and daughters. The school has not conducted any checks on the company or it's employees. The company was to come to the school and photograph the students for a ID card. The card also has your child's, name, date of birth and some other bits of information. Even though for a few dollars you now have a ID for your child that you can carry in your wallet in the event your child is lost or kidnapped, by participating in this function you could yourself be placing your child in harms way. You see, the parents never took the time to think the whole thing through. It's a private company creating the IDs on a computer. What happens if they lose the computer? All of your child's info is on the hard drive. What happens when a computer goes bad or we decide to get a new one? We sell the old one or give it away, right? Regardless, if that hard drive lands in the wrong hands not only does any person of bad character have all these children's photo's and names but the names of the school they attend as well. How easy is it then to wait in the parking lot, wait for the parent to pick up the kid and follow them home. Now all he has to do is wait for your child to be playing alone in the driveway or riding their bike, it happens all the time.
Because of the above I elected to not allow my daughter to be issued a ID, instead I contacted the local Police Department and they have a childrens ID program too. Only this one I trust, fully!
Protect your children, they count on you to keep them safe. Remember, when it comes to your child there is no such thing as overreacting!