Professional Jeweler Archive: True Crimes and What You Can Learn from Them

January 2005

The Store / Managing: Security


True Crimes – and What You Can Learn from Them

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. culled these real cases from their files, along with strategies to protect yourself and reduce your risk


Armed Robbery

It’s not always guns

The Crimes

An unkempt person walked into an Oklahoma jewelry store with a box in his hand and threatened to blow up the store if anyone moved. Everyone cooperated and the person took about $110,000 worth of jewelry. Jewelers Mutual paid for this covered loss. Police later determined the box was not a bomb. The suspect has since been arrested, and many of the stolen items have been recovered.

In Oregon, a person threatened employees in a jewelry store with a syringe he said contained HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Employees cooperated and no one was injured. Jewelers Mutual paid more than $100,000 and, to date, the robber hasn’t been caught.

The Strategies

Stay calm and try not to panic.

Cooperate fully. Ask your customers to do the same.

The quicker a robber gets the merchandise, the sooner he will leave, lessening the risk of injury.

Be sure your surveillance equipment is on throughout the day, not just at night.

Without making direct eye contact, which might anger a robber, focus on his or her height, weight, complexion, hair color and style, tattoos and moles or other identifiable marks. Shoes – especially athletic shoes – are often overlooked, but may be more easily identifiable than clothing.

Pay attention to what the robber touches because he may leave trace evidence. Don’t wipe or touch anything before police arrive.

If the robber asks you to go into a back room, do as you’re told and don’t resist. Remain there until the robber has left the premises.

Don’t press an alarm until after the robber leaves. If police arrive while the robber is in the store, it could turn into a hostage situation.

After the robber leaves, lock the door.

Try to keep witnesses in your store until police arrive. If someone insists on leaving, get his or her contact information.


Grab & Run Theft

Ignore your instinct – don’t chase a fleeing thief

The Crime

Two men entered a Minnesota jewelry store and said they wanted to buy gifts for their significant others. One snatched a necklace from the sales associate, then both robbers ran from the store.

The alarm sounded and one sales associate followed them to their car. They drove a short distance before getting stuck in the snow, at which time they fled on foot. Police found one hiding at a local business; the other robber and the jewelry have not been found. Jewelers Mutual paid the insured for this loss.

No one was harmed in this situation. However, the outcome could have been much different had one of the robbers been carrying a concealed weapon. For your own safety, leave any potentially dangerous situation up to law enforcement.

The Strategies

Don’t ever chase a robber.

Don’t resist.

Remember details so you can help law enforcement officials in the investigation.


Sneak Theft

How good are your locks?

The Crime

Employees were working with customers in a California jewelry store when a new customer entered. A salesperson acknowledged him and said someone would be right with him.

After a few minutes, the salesperson turned back to help the new customer only to find him gone. He had reached over the showcase, removed the lock (which was broken) and stolen six pieces of jewelry worth nearly $100,000. Jewelers Mutual covered this loss.

The Strategies

When customers outnumber salespeople, the risk of theft increases substantially. You can lessen such risks by doing the following:

Make certain your locks and showcases are well-maintained.

When buying or refurbishing showcases, consider ones with backs that flip up. These are more difficult to reach inside from the front than those that open from the side.

Rework your floor plan so you never have to turn your back to customers. Also make sure there are no blind spots from any part of the sales floor.

Salespeople should keep showcase keys on wristbands or other holders. Never leave them in showcase locks, on shelves or in any other visible area.

Some showcases have locks with generic keys. These keys open any showcase of that type. Replace them with unique locks.


Burglary

How good is your security?

The Crime

Burglars broke into the second floor of a five-story commercial building by defeating a fire escape door. After ripping off motion detectors and cutting phone lines, they drilled through three safes in a jeweler’s premises.

The building security guard saw motion detectors had been moved off the wall, but he assumed the jeweler was remodeling.

Jewelers Mutual paid in excess of $135,000 and is pursuing the security company for negligence.

The Strategies

Criminals are clever. It’s up to you outsmart them. Consider the following tips:

Before signing up with a security company, do your homework. Ask for references. Check consumer or regulatory organizations. The UL Alarm Finder at www.ulalarmfinder.com provides a list of UL-listed alarm companies in your area.

Know your neighbors. Know what suites and offices around your building are vacant, including floors above and below you. Express concern to your landlord if you have vacant spaces next to yours.

Know all possible points of entry into your store, including fire escapes and through the floor or the roof. Make certain these areas are protected adequately.

Ask your security company whether you can take any additional actions to protect your premises.

Know what security systems exist outside your store. Cameras in an alley, mall hallway, elevator or outside a neighboring store may heighten your store’s security.

  • Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., Neenah, WI; (800) 558-6411; www.jewelersmutual.com.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications