Youngstown Security Patrol closes after 47 years of patrolling, guarding

By Kalea Hall


Carl Testa has lain in fields to stop car thieves.

He has driven around town late at night after working at Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. to keep areas and businesses secure.

The presence of Testa and his security personnel at Youngstown Security Patrol Inc. prevented crimes from happening for the past 47 years.

But now, at age 86, it’s time for Testa to lay down his arms, retire from guarding and patrolling and close his business.

Testa can sit back in his recliner and remember all of those times his business helped stop crime.

Testa had five bypass surgeries in 1991. He had a hip replacement in 1997, and another one in 2001. Two years ago, he had a silent heart attack.

Testa still kept working until he hit 86 and decided it was time.

He proudly shows off the beginnings of his security career with pictures and documents showing his dedication. In a neat pile, one document stands out: a picture of a younger Testa with a group of men who had just signed on as volunteer auxiliary officers.

This is where it all started.

Testa got into the security business when he was talked into volunteering as an auxiliary officer for the Youngstown Police Department in 1957. In 1961, he added the title of special deputy for the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department to his security resume.

In 1969, Testa got together with three other auxiliary officers and started Youngstown Security Patrol.

“We saw a need, so we decided to start the business,” Testa said.

Initially, Youngstown Security Patrol focused on patrolling.

“Nobody did patrol work at that time,” Testa said.

Youngstown Security Patrol would go to different businesses and checked to make sure they were locked up and everything was OK.

Eventually, stationed guard service became a prime part of the business.

Testa was both a security man and a steelworker at the same time.

“I used to see him work doubles and then go out [and patrol] at night,” said Gary Testa, Carl’s son.

After Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed, Testa knew he needed to focus his efforts on the company he started.

In 1983, Testa bought the company from his partners. He took over the business with just $150 and a piece of cardboard that had a list of eight customer names.

Testa went out and built up that customer list.

“We got larger to the point where we had two cars out at night on patrol,” Testa said.

The business was run out of the Testa house on Meadowbrook Avenue that Carl shared with his wife, Delores, and their three children.

Security personnel were coming to Testa’s house to meet, and radios were filling up the house. With the type of business came some threats.

Testa knew he had to get a separate location to operate his business. In 1986, Testa bought property at 3640 South Ave.

The business kept growing over the next 29 years, keeping churches, businesses, funeral homes, apartments, old buildings and dealerships guarded.

John Sobionvsky was a 14-year-old boy running around the parking lot of a local AMVETS club when Testa stopped him and his friends and asked if they wanted to make $3 a night parking cars.

“He did that for us and paid us out of his pocket,” Sobionvsky said.

Sobionvsky started working security for Testa when he was 22. The Testas quickly became like family to him.

“Being a small company, you know all the people,” Delores said.

While Testa and his workers were out on the streets, Delores was in the office doing the books. The service was 24 hours with multiple customers and more than 50 employees out stopping crime.

The Youngstown Security Patrol caught an employee stealing pop from the local Coca-Cola plant.

Then there was the case of the missing Christmas trees. Youngstown Security Patrol was hired by a company to find out how its decorative trees were disappearing. A Youngstown Security Patrol employee waited three hours in the snow and caught the tree thieves.

Sobionvsky helped a Youngstown police officer fight off a guy while he was working security at St. Dominic’s Catholic Parish.

“I saw the police officer fighting this guy,” Sobionvsky said. “I ran down there and the two of us got him on the ground.”

After working at the Youngstown Security Patrol, Sobionvsky was a private investigator and worked in the alarm business.

Struthers Police Chief Tim Roddy worked for a year guarding buildings for the Youngstown Security Patrol while he was a reserve police officer for Struthers. Back then in mid-1980s, Roddy was just 19.

“They put a lot of trust in you to protect their assets,” Roddy said. “It did teach a lot. Just the responsibility factor and the teamwork, too.”

Roddy has been a police officer for 30 years, and for six of those years, he has been chief of Struthers police. He knows the benefits of having security companies out there like Youngstown Security Patrol to help the police.

“We can’t be everywhere,” Roddy said. “I think they are very valuable.”

Ron Perry, facility manager at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Youngstown, also sees the value in security. For more than a decade, the Youngstown Security Patrol guarded the church. Testa never wavered on his word to keep the church guarded when needed. If the church needed extra guards, they were there and they were always on time.

“He just ran an excellent business,” Perry said. “He was always a man of his word.”