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Museum Security Challenges

Tens of thousands of works of art are stolen every year. In 1998 alone, according to Interpol, more than 60,000 works of art were stolen. In January 2013, two men were sentenced for attempting to sell a stolen Matisse painting. Last December, a woman pled guilty to transporting a stolen bust of Benjamin Franklin. In September 2012, a Renoir painting stolen in Houston was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes list.

ABC News quotes Interpol as saying, “Art theft is a crime exceeded in dollar value only by drug trafficking, money laundering and arms dealing. Estimates have put the losses at $4 to 6 billion worldwide.”

The most spectacular art heist in modern history occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990, where two thieves dressed as Boston Police officers talked their way inside, subdued the staff, and walked away with $300 million in Degas, Rembrandts, a Vermeer and a Manet. The thieves still have not been caught.

Museum Security Challenges
Theft is not the only threat faced by museums. In addition to art theft, damage to inventory, much of which may not even be on public display, is another concern.

In a North Carolina museum, a Sunstates security officer recently discovered a serious water leak in a storage area. Had this leak not been discovered quickly, it could have caused millions of dollars of damage.

The purpose of art is to stoke people’s passions, and this occasionally happens in the negative. Vandalism to works deemed “offensive” to various sensibilities also presents a threat.

Best Practices for Museum Security
Museums are typically quiet, low-activity environments, making it easy for security officers’ vigilance to wane. Contrast this with occasional periods of high activity, when large crowds are passing through. The contrast creates unique security challenges.

To address these challenges, Sunstates President Glenn Burrell identifies these best practices for museum security:


  • Recruit security officers who have a real interest in the museum itself, such as art or history aficionados. Encourage a sense of participation and vested interest in keeping the exhibits safe.
  • Educate security officers about the exhibits, and cross-train personnel in various positions. Visitors often assume that officers are guides or regular museum staff. As part of their PR responsibilities, they should know the fundamentals of the pieces themselves.
  • Quickly identify individuals of interest. Then, have officers trade coverage to provide discreet visual surveillance. This practice requires efficient communication between security officers.
  • Move security officers around the facility to create the impression of a larger staff, which is a useful deterrent.


Contact Sunstates Security today to discuss your unique security needs.

“Art Theft.” Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Chang, Andrew. “Art Theft: Big Money, Big Problems”. ABC News. March 19, 2013.


Written by Sunstates Security

May 10th, 2013 at 3:06 pm


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Sunstates Security’s most valuable asset is the people who make up our work force.  Because they are such a valuable part of our corporate family, we cannot condone anything less than a totally safe work environment on the job, and must encourage safe practices at home.

Never in the history of our country has there been so much emphasis placed on worker safety.  Volumes have been filled with regulations, laws, and policies designed to improve the safety of the workplace.  This has occurred because business and industry has become aware of the enormous cost (both personal and financial) associated with work-related injuries, illnesses, and accidents.  At Sunstates, safety is the first and most important factor.  We cannot afford to just be good; we have to strive to be perfect and work diligently to achieve our goal of “Zero Accidents.”

Through the systematic and conscientious application of the Safety Plan outlined in our new and improved Sunstates Security Safety Manual, we know that accidents can be prevented, and injuries can be eliminated.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 30th, 2012 at 7:24 pm


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The primary responsibility of a Security Officer is the protection of people and property. Patrol is a vital part of this responsibility, and it’s important for every Security Officer to master patrol skills. 

The use of patrols as a security measure can be traced all the way back to ancient times, and there’s a good reason for that. We call it the “Theory of Patrol”.  The Theory of Patrol is based on the hope that individuals contemplating a crime may not go through with it, knowing someone with authority to legally stop them is nearby.

We can never entirely stop improper behavior; there will always be some people looking for ways around the law. However, when faced with the risk of getting caught, many would-be criminals may choose not to follow through with their plans. A regular and highly visible, but unpredictable, patrol by a Security Officer serves to let people know that the property and the people on it are being looked after, and that attempts to commit a crime on the property are more likely to be discovered. 

To support the nationwide launch of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” Department of Homeland Security campaign, Sunstates Security is releasing The Principles of Patrol, the first in our new series of courses designed to promote awareness.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 24th, 2012 at 6:48 pm


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Sunstates Learning Management System (LMS) E-Learning PortalFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PR Log (Press Release) January 11, 2012, RALEIGH, NC-Sunstates Security unveils E-Learning allowing any Sunstates employee with a live internet connection can login to his or her own personal E-learning portal, anytime, anywhere, and access an entire library of courses designed specifically for security professionals.

Course topics range from basic security officer training, to Department of Homeland Security certificate programs, to leadership & development courses for supervisors and managers. And because the Sunstates Learning Management System (LMS) is secure and customizable, clients can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that training designed specifically for their facility is assigned only to Sunstates employees who have a need to learn that material.

At Sunstates Security, the E-Learning experience is core to our belief that a continuous and ongoing education program will result in a highly skilled, customer oriented, exceptionally prepared security team. For a video tour of the Sunstates E-Learning program within our customized LMS please visit:

Written by Sunstates Security

January 11th, 2012 at 8:12 pm