William J. Burns

Our History

In 1999, when Securitas AB entered the U.S. market by acquiring Pinkerton, the company became the largest security firm in the world. At the time, Securitas AB was already the leading protective services company in Europe, but few here in America were aware of the firm’s stature in the industry or the respect associated with its name.

Like Securitas AB, Pinkerton had a rich history dating back to 1850 in Chicago, when Allan Pinkerton, the “original private eye,” founded Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency. Pinkerton was employed to protect railroad property and first gained fame for exposing the activities of a band of counterfeiters. In 1861, he achieved national recognition when he uncovered and foiled a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, Pinkerton helped organize a federal secret service, of which he became chief. His pursuits of notorious outlaws such as Jesse James, the Reno brothers, and the Wild Bunch (a group of bandits led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) brought extraordinary visibility to his agency.  Today, Pinkerton is the industry's leading provider of risk management services and solutions for organizations throughout the world.

In 2000, Securitas AB acquired another legendary, American private security firm, Burns International. Founded in 1909, the William J. Burns Detective Agency was also headquartered in Chicago. Burns was a man of integrity who had served as a national crime watchdog. During his career, he was known as “the greatest detective the U.S. had ever produced.” In 1921, he was appointed director of the newly formed Bureau of Investigation that later became the FBI. Burns’ drive, determination and commitment to service helped his company grow from a small detective agency to the second largest security provider in the U.S.

That same year, Securitas AB made a number of other U.S. acquisitions. First Security, American Protective Services, Doyle Protective Service, Smith Security, and APG Security were all purchased, giving the company a strong American foundation. The acquisitions also positioned Securitas AB as the market leader in the United States.

In July 2003, all of the U.S. guarding operations of Securitas AB united under the single name of Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.

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