Professional Jeweler Archive: Violent Crime and its Aftermath

February 2003


Violent Crime & its Aftermath

The Jewelers' Security Alliance estimates several thousand people a year suffer emotional turmoil because of jewelry industry crime. Here's how to cope

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance recently issued a bulletin counseling its members on how to cope with the fallout from jewelry crime. The crime-fighting association said in a recent 12-month period, 150 of its 1,416 cases involved crime victims who suffered violence, such as being shot, pistol-whipped, assaulted or maced. Some victims had their homes invaded by robbers (see following story), some were car-jacked and others were locked in the trunk of the car.

Many of these crimes had multiple victims in which a store’s entire staff was tied up and threatened with death or held hostage, or who witnessed violence directed at a coworker. Though not every victim or witness to a crime suffers psychological trauma, some are affected for days, weeks or longer, says JSA. The group offered the following advice.

For Managers & Owners

Following a crime at your business, JSA recommends you hold a staff meeting to calm staff members and allow them to grieve if necessary. For a severe incident involving a homicide or injury, consider hiring a mental health professional with experience in trauma counseling to conduct a group session. You also can have individuals referred to professional help. Police, community and government agencies often operate victim-assistance groups.

Depending on the severity of the crime, you may want to give some workers a few days off to recover. “A staffer who has had a gun put to his or her head may need more time than other victims to regain composure and a professional business attitude,” says JSA. Consider closing the business for the rest of the day following a dramatic crime, which may be necessary anyway if police need to collect evidence.

In the days and weeks following a crime, check in frequently with staffers to find out whether they need more help. Be available to listen, and be on the lookout for common symptoms that victims experience (see ahead for a list). If workers-compensation issues related to a violent crime arise, consult your store’s attorney.
After an appropriate time, schedule another staff meeting to discuss security procedures and reassure staff that security planning and preparation will be ongoing. Resources to help you prepare for possible violent crime are available from JSA and insurance companies such as Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. (800-558-6411).

Insights for Victims

Though most crime victims don’t require professional counseling, you should take seriously any prolonged reaction that disrupts daily functions. The American Psychological Association lists common symptoms after initial shock, such as feeling stunned, dazed or numb. Some victims deny something stressful has happened. Later, victims may suffer from anxiety, nervousness or depression. Physical symptoms can include headaches, nausea and chest pain – or preexisting conditions can get worse.

Some victims experience vivid memories of the crime, including flashbacks that lead to rapid heartbeats or sweating. They can become easily confused or have a hard time making decisions. Sleeping and eating problems can occur, as can fights with family or coworkers. Other victims isolate themselves or experience recurring reactions on crime anniversaries. Victims should avoid making major life decisions, such as switching careers or jobs, after a severe trauma, says JSA. Judgment may be impaired by the stress of the event.

• Jewelers’ Security Alliance, New York City; (800) 537-0067 or (212) 687-0328, www.jewelerssecurity .org.

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications