Professional Jeweler Archive: Crime Wars

July 2000


Crime Wars

Jewelers' losses are down, but crime against sales reps is way up

There’s good news on the crime front: A recent report by the Jewelers’ Security Alliance reveals losses from crimes against retail jewelers dropped by 23% to a historic low last year. But there’s bad news too – crimes against traveling sales representatives rose a frightening 44%.

JSA Vice President Robert W. Frank says the decrease in overall criminal acts against retailers follows the general pattern of decreased crime throughout the nation; he credits awareness for part of the change. “I’m sure jewelers are more aware of crime than they were five or six years ago and can set up deterrents,” he says.

Active Times

The report breaks down each area of crime – robberies, burglaries and thefts – and includes such details as the most active month for retail jewelry store robberies (September), most active day of the week (Thursday) and most active time (10 a.m. to noon, during store opening).

Three-minute burglaries (so named because that’s the approximate time needed to complete the crime) account for 73% of all burglaries, with the average loss of $62,000. JSA says those who specialize in this type of crime have little or no concern for alarm systems or safes and intend to be gone before anyone responds to the alarm. Take this to heart and make sure all valuable merchandise is removed from windows and showcases.

Violence continues to play a major role in jewelry store crime, but the percentage of robberies with violence declined slightly from 1998, as did the percentage of incidents in which a gun was used. (JSA considers a violent robbery one involving physical contact with the victim or injury caused by the suspect.) The number of homicides dropped slightly, with 15 reported last year, eight of which involved store owners.

Frank advises jewelers not to resist if a robbery occurs. “The person with the gun is nervous and assumes every jeweler has a gun,” he says. “He knows the stakes are high. He wants to leave right away.”

Trunk and remount shows conducted jointly by retailers and traveling sales representatives provided more opportunities for robberies, rising from 2% of attacks against sales reps in 1998 to 11% last year. “The problem with trunk shows is advertising,” says Frank. “Ads tell where and when the show will be held, so criminals lie in wait for the sales rep.” Retailers hosting trunk shows should have uniformed police officers present when the sales rep moves merchandise in and out of the store. “Off-duty officers in civilian clothes have experience handling a confrontation, but they won’t prevent the confrontation,” he says. The uniform is a deterrent.

File a Report

Frank urges jewelers to report every instance of crime, even attempts. “If people come in a store and you think they’re casing it, get descriptions and report them. If we get three or four calls with the same basic descriptions, we can call the police.” Retailers also should call the police. “They’ll come out – that’s their job,” he says.

– by Jack Heeger

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications