Professional Jeweler Archive: Knowing When to Get Out

January 2002


Knowing When to Get Out

All jewelers should have effective emergency plans in place

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many businesses have increased and improved security to protect workers and customers. You should do the same – with law-enforcement agencies distracted, jewelers face more risks than ever before from petty thieves, organized gangs and terrorists. Don’t forget that shopping malls have been on high alert since the attacks.

To decrease your risk, always have at least two people in the store. This is not just a rule – it’s the first commandment of security. Have a clear plan and practice it so everyone knows exactly what to do without wasting time. Here are some suggestions for an orderly and effective evacuation plan in the event of a bomb, chemical or biological threat.

Explosive Situation

For any bomb threat or suspected explosive device, instruct all personnel to remain calm.

If a threat is phoned in, write everything the caller says. Is the caller male or female? Any accent? Any background sounds? Is it live or a recording? Claim to have a bad connection, then ask the caller to repeat the message or slow down. Listen if the message is being repeated exactly – this is an indication it’s being read. Ask how much time until the bomb goes off, why there is a bomb and what message, if any, they have for the news media. Signal for someone to call police, and start your evacuation.

Evacuation should be orderly. Ask customers to please leave because of a security problem. The person closest to the safe should open it, and every staff member near high-value items should hand them back for placement into the safe, but only if it can be done without delaying the evacuation. The safe should be locked and the store evacuated. Merchandise can be replaced; you cannot.

Other tips if a bomb is threatened:

  • Don’t use cell phones or radios; they can trigger bombs.
  • Don’t lock the store; the bomb squad will need access.
  • Don’t allow people to gather outside the store; an explosion can send debris hundreds of feet into the street.
  • If you’re in a mall, leave the mall; an enclosed blast will cause serious damage, perhaps even a building collapse.

If you suspect biological or chemical agents, the same initial rules of evacuation apply. If possible, turn off ventilation systems as you evacuate.

One final tip: Carry ample insurance and have adequate documentation in case of a claim. With proper planning, you can meet the challenges of today’s uncertainties. Take care of security, then you can go back to doing what you enjoy most: selling jewelry.

– Elie Ribacoff

Elie Ribacoff is president of Worldwide Security Network, New York City; (718) 380-0209,

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications