Searching for traces, relying on instinct

He never liked half-truths – even as a child, Rüdiger Ruhnke liked to get to the bottom of things. He has led Steel’s investigation service for the past three years. Ruhnke’s job is an adventurous one, and soon Dascha the Doberman will be assisting him in his duties.

It was an incredible opportunity, which is why I didn’t hesitate: I was more than happy to take over the Corporate Security department. I was already a good sleuth as a child – I would get to the bottom of things and keep digging until I’d cleared everything up. I never liked half-truths. I’ve developed my plant security skills at thyssenkrupp; with all that I’ve learned, I’d probably make a great policeman. Someone even asked me once if I used to be a cop, since I’m so familiar with investigative techniques and take a very close look at things. I’ve constantly worked on learning more and honing my skills. I think that being interested in criminology and having a talent for it is something that runs in your blood. I’ve always been able to trust my gut to tell when someone’s lied to me; I’ve never been wrong. Someone recently said to me: Don’t look at me like that, I’ve heard that you can read people like a book.

Those skills come in very handy for me and my employees. We’re there to help whenever anything needs to be investigated. We search for the causes of fires, conduct inspections at customs or at construction sites, and support the police in investigating crimes at the plant. The police take over prosecution – but our insider knowledge and familiarity with the plant facilities allow us to do valuable preliminary work. I also have the support of a great team. There are always going to be thieves looking to steal tools, materials, and especially raw materials such as copper in a targeted manner. Sometimes they do so in grand style. Every now and then, there are sensational cases, such as the theft of grounding cables from the underground cable channels at the Duisburg-Nord plant. That amounted to losses of over €400,000. We had reasonable suspicion and even trailed the suspect outside of the plant facilities – I felt pure adrenaline when we did that. In the end, he confessed.

"We always go to the scene of the crime in pairs, especially at night. Perpetrators get up to all kinds
of things."

Rüdiger Ruhnke, Head of Security

Some things, such as bicycles, cell phones, and money occasionally go missing from offices. The company can’t do anything about that. Sometimes employees leave their things lying around, and it’s our job to remind them not to do so, in order to prevent crimes. The whistleblower hotline is a helpful resource – employees can report any unusual activity. Nobody has to worry that they’ll be falsely accused, though. We inspect the situation closely, since we need to have solid proof, and we’re quick to dismiss false accusations. Those come up more frequently than you might think.

My team and I are out and about on the plant facilities all day. We assist employees with inspections at the gates and provide personal security services. Is our job dangerous? Well, I’m 1.97 meters tall and athletic, but I still don’t take any risks. I can’t recommend that approach to my employees often enough. We always proceed to the scene of the crime in pairs, since on occasion we have to go to some pretty dark places at night. Starting this summer, we will also have the support of Dascha, a service dog. Dascha is a Doberman, and she’s undergoing guard dog and tracking dog training until the end of the year. I know Dascha personally, and I can completely rely on her. Her excellent sense of smell will help her to detect perpetrators before I can see them – especially in the cable channels. We shouldn’t underestimate that skill, since the people that we’re dealing with get up to all sorts of things.

It makes me happy when we can do right by people. For example, an employee working on a roller was run over by a heavy truck, and both of his legs were seriously injured. The workers’ compensation board didn’t want to give him any money, saying he was responsible. I believed him, though, and painstakingly reconstructed the incident, revisiting the traces on the vehicles and at the site of the accident. The driver’s statement was the only one that corroborated the traces. I stick to my guns and keep inspecting until the end. That’s just how I am. And what do you know? He was innocent! Years later, he was still on crutches, and came knocking on my door and thanked me. I was very moved.