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Globally, piracy and hostage-taking have been on the upswing for several years. Al-Qaeda and its splinter groups, such as the East African terrorist organization  known as Al-Shabaab, have lost most of their primary sources of funding, as a result of U.S. and European anti-money-laundering efforts.  Forced to look elsewhere for easy sources of cash, they have turned to piracy, kidnapping and ransom. Currently, at any given time, a global average of 500 individuals are held in captivity for ranson.

The new kidnapping threat
Foreign nationals, employees of international businesses, and passengers and crew on ships at sea are all vulnerable to the risk of being victimized by these criminals. With an average of more than 100 kidnappings per month in Somali waters alone, and a typical settlement in shipping piracy of $3-4M, terrorist organizations have found their new cash cow. The average ransom demand for individuals is $1.15M, and the average settlement is $355,000 per person.

The kidnapping industry has an index of the ransom worth of any given person. The international standard starts at $600,000, regardless of the person’s wealth or social status. If the kidnappers know the identity of their captive, however, the initial figure generally starts much higher.

This new reality poses a frightening challenge for companies conducting international business, and can seem like a daunting obstacle. Many are reluctant to travel at all. Consulting with an expert familiar with this new criminal reality has become crucial. Sunstates Security President Glenn Burrell has extensive training in terrorism studies and the dynamics of hostage taking. His knowledge and connections in government and law enforcement can be a critical component in a company’s ability to evaluate risks, and develop an action plan should an employee fall prey to kidnapping.

An ounce of prevention
Sunstates and its partners can train your company to avoid some commonly overlooked risks and prime target scenarios. “Ninety percent of abductions occur at the point of arrival or departure from home or work,” he explained. “They’re the two primary vulnerabilities.”

Additionally, Burrell advises companies about the repercussions of these crimes. Even when victims are released and unharmed – 94% of kidnap victims survive their experiences, 70% after ransom is paid — victims often suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic-stress disorder, which directly affects both their personal and professional lives. This PTSD spills over to the victim’s colleagues and their family members, as well.

These tips can help global companies reduce the abduction risk of their workforce:

  • Employees should dress as locals and avoid showing wealth; for instance, driving an older car can help maintain a low profile.
  • Educate employees on local areas where they should and should not travel. Many abductees are mid- or low-level employees, not CEOs. These employees don’t realize how valuable they are. They may wander into places where they shouldn’t be.
  • Track employees with GPS chips installed on vehicles, cell phones and even clothing.

Call Sunstates Security today to learn how to protect your employees. Drawing on our international network, we can help you evaluate your current practices and provide an action plan for hostage contingencies.

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Scott McGillivray

Scott McGillivray, Business Development Manager

In his role as Business Development Manager, Scott will be responsible for identifying and building new business partnerships throughout the Southeast including NC, SC, AL, TN and GA.

Sunstates Security LLC, a business specializing in providing security services for businesses, industries and their employees has hired Scott McGillivray as Business Development Manager.

Scott comes to Sunstates Security with over twenty years of Corporate Security and Loss Prevention experience in roles including Store Detective Trainer, Manager of Safety and Asset Protection and Director of Loss Prevention. Most of Scott’s Security Management experience comes from corporate distribution environments where he was responsible for developing and managing security teams cross-trained in Safety and Security to Internal/External Investigations and Loss Prevention. As Director of Loss Prevention at Chadwick’s of Boston, Scott managed security officer services and developed a Credit Card Fraud Department which was responsible for the recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card fraud.

Scott worked closely with local law enforcement, Secret Service, Postal Inspections Services and the FBI, however, credits most of his success to the security team that he worked with daily. Scott stated “In Distribution Security Services, you have to be very alert and creative in order to be effective.” It is important to set up solid policies and procedures but even more important to have a clear understanding of why those policies and procedures need to be in place.

Sunstates Security’s Vice President, Denis Kelly stated “Scott understands the true value of a quality security officer and a solid security program to support that officer. With Scott’s expertise, drive and Sunstates’ “Service First” mission statement, we think Scott is a great fit here at Sunstates and welcome him to the team.”

Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., Sunstates Security, one of the fastest-growing corporate security service companies in the country, is an industry leader with a proactive “Service First” approach to offering superior customer service and custom-designed protection for its clients. Currently operating in 11 states, Sunstates Security is well known for its on-site accountability and proven track record of exceptional client service. Sunstates Security continually exceeds industry standards and enjoys one of the highest client retention rates in the industry. To learn more about Sunstates Security, please visit

Written by Sunstates Security

March 21st, 2011 at 4:59 pm


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February 21, 2011
“A recent robbery incident at our corporate headquarters has resulted in arrests. After many interviews and a good vehicle description the suspects were identified and arrested for armed robbery. I want to personally thank employees at our corporate headquarters and our Sunstates Security Officers for their time and diligence in helping police detectives solve this case with good, detailed and accurate information.”

See more Sunstates Security client testimonials on our website.

Written by Sunstates Security

February 21st, 2011 at 2:32 pm