Ethical Violations Or Cardinal Sins Of Security Officers

When hired, most security officers are instructed by their employer as to what is considered improper or unethical behavior. Often a statement to the effect that, “anyone who violates any of the before mentioned rules and regulations will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge,” is signed by all new hires. Normally these rule violations include theft, sleeping while on duty, destruction of property, misuse of equipment, etc.


Without question, security personnel who exhibit dishonest behavior discredit the entire profession. Security personnel who are assigned to a facility to protect and ensure that property is not damaged or stolen, but decide to engage in the theft of that property, have committed the most serious and damaging offense possible. Security and cleaning personnel are considered prime suspects in any theft investigation because of their opportunity to have access to various areas of a facility.

People steal for a variety of reasons but a need or desire to steal is always present. When security officers are found to have been responsible for a theft, they will usually display the second element of theft…rationalization. Security officers will often rationalize that they chose to steal because they were not appreciated, or they were overworked, underpaid, etc. The fact remains that no legitimate reason ever exists for a security officer to engage in theft. Opportunity is the final element that is present in any theft situation. Usually, a security officer has more of an opportunity than anyone in an organization to steal.

Security personnel have a great opportunity for theft since they may be the only person working at the facility or one of only a few people working. It may seem easy for a security officer to have an accomplice come into a facility, back up a truck to the rear loading dock and remove property. This can often be accomplished without detection. Usually, thieves who find a facility so susceptible to theft will often come back and become more daring. If the thefts continue, the odds are great that the thefts will eventually be discovered and the perpetrators apprehended. Some facilities may discover a theft immediately while other organizations may not learn of the loss for weeks or months. The point to be remembered is that the odds increase that eventually a security officer who engages in theft will be identified.

Dishonesty-Theft Of Time

Security officers are required to record the actual hours worked in many different ways. Some officers will punch-in using a time-clock. Others will simply write their hours in a log, or telephone a central office to record their call on and off times. No matter what system is utilized to record the time worked, security personnel are often afforded the opportunity to misrepresent their actual hours worked.

Security officers who walk off-duty at a facility are not only leaving the facility unprotected, they are leaving their employer possibly liable for any loss or damage which occurs while the facility is left unprotected. In addition, if the security officer is a contract employee, his employer may unintentionally be cheating the client for hours worked. Again, eventually the truth will come to the surface and the security officer who is leaving the post will be identified. Usually, a situation of this type is extremely embarrassing to all parties.