Throughout our history, we have served as guardians and protectors of organizations around the world, defining new industry standards for comprehensive risk management, and consistently revolutionizing our industry.

From our roots serving as an intelligence agency during the Civil War, Pinkerton has continued to build an impressive track record establishing the first criminal database, being the first company to hire a female detective, and being a forerunner for the secret service. Discover how Pinkerton has played a historic role in the risk management industry for over a century by following our company and our accomplishments through the years in the timeline below.

  • 1842

    Allan Pinkerton immigrates to the U.S., settles near Chicago and goes to work making barrels.

    Young Allan Pinkerton
  • 1847

    Allan Pinkerton joins the Chicago Police Department.

  • 1849

    Allan Pinkerton is appointed as Chicago’s first police detective.

    Photograph of a man reading at a desk
  • Old poster titled 'Thieves & Burglars!'


    The first Pinkerton office opens at 80 Washington Street, Chicago, IL. Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency is formed and with it the birth of a noble profession.

  • 1853

    Pinkerton Detective Agency works with law enforcement to arrest criminals anywhere in the country.

    Old photograph of a Allan Pinkerton on horseback
  • Photograph of men on horses near train tracks


    Pinkerton specializes in protecting railroad shipments for several mid-western railways.

  • 1856

    Kate Warne is hired by Pinkerton, becoming the first female detective in the U.S.

    We never sleep
  • 1861-1865

    During the Civil War, Pinkerton serves as head of the Union Intelligence Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. Allan Pinkerton recruits the first African-American Union Intelligence Agent, John Scobell.


    In the hour of peril, Pinkerton uncovers and foils an assassination plot on the life of Abraham Lincoln, directing him safely through the ranks of treason to his first inauguration.

    Photograph of Abraham Lincoln standing with Allan...
  • 1866

    The first recorded train robbery takes place and the Pinkerton Agency is called to locate and arrest the culprits.

    Wanted poster for train robber Oliver Curtis Perry
  • Newspaper story with headshot


    Allan Pinkerton and his agents become legendary during their relentless pursuit of Jesse James – the Younger Gang, the Dalton Brothers, and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. The Pinkerton Agency begins the practice of clipping and filing newspaper stories for reference in investigations. Pinkerton’s collection of mug shots and methodology develops the first criminal database.

  • 1871

    Pinkerton guards are hired to prevent looting after the Great Fire in Chicago.

  • Alan Pikerton's Headstone


    With the death of Allan Pinkerton, the agency is taken over by his two sons, Robert and William.

  • 1890s

    Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency has 2,000 active agents and 30,000 reserves causing the state of Ohio to outlaw the agency, due to the possibility of it being hired out as a “private army” or militia.


    Pinkerton attack disbands Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.

  • Old black and white photograph of men in top hats


    Pinkerton has 20 offices throughout the U.S.

  • 1907

    Allan Pinkerton II, the grandson of the founder, inherits the Agency.

    Allan Pinkerton II
  • 1930

    Robert Pinkerton II, the great-grandson of Allan Pinkerton leads the Agency.

  • 1960

    Corporate headquarters move to downtown New York City, making a total of 45 offices.

    Pinkerton Private Eye
  • The place: An ocean liner. The case: Mona Lisa...


    Pinkerton’s armed agents are called upon to escort the priceless painting, Mona Lisa, painted by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, safely across the Atlantic Ocean.

  • 1969

    Pinkerton offices are established in Hong Kong, opening the door to operations throughout Asia.

  • Pinkerton Badge


    The trademark ‘PINKERTON’S’ is registered on March 3, 1970.

  • 1998

    Pinkerton successfully evacuates 431 expatriates from Indonesia during the Asian Currency Crisis.

  • 1999

    Securitas AB, the largest security services provider in the world, acquires Pinkerton.

  • 2005

    Pinkerton mobilizes 313 agents to assist clients in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Sandy (in 2012).

  • 2012

    Pinkerton introduces the Pinkerton Risk Wheel, representative of the company's new holistic approach to comprehensive risk management.

  • 2013

    The leading innovator of comprehensive risk management solutions for national and international corporations, Pinkerton operates in over 100 countries and maintains a vast, exclusive global network of reliable resources.

  • Pinkerton Global Headquarters


    Pinkerton relocates its global headquarters from Parsippany, N.J. to a new 11,000-square-foot global headquarters back to the Midwest in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • 2015

    Pinkerton introduces its Risk Index, a comprehensive report detailing the global risk landscape, created through years of collaborative work by scholars and security professionals, and backed by data from 17 distinct sources.

  • 2018

    Pinkerton introduces a new concept called Applied Risk Science, a proprietary and analytical approach using big data and machine learning technology to identify, manage, and mitigate business risk for clients.

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