March 1, 2000
FBI Puts Agents Full Time on Jewelry Crime
The FBI has assigned four local agents on a full-time basis to investigate robberies against jewelers in the crime-ridden Los Angeles area, says John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers' Security Alliance.
Two additional full-time agents are now on the jewelry crime beat in Chicago as well, and Kennedy says the FBI may do the same in Miami. This is the first time the FBI has devoted agents full-time to jewelry robberies, says Kennedy, and it signals a new effort to root out the violent criminals who have been preying on jewelry industry.
JSA and its coalition to fight jewelry crime has lobbied Congress since last fall, requesting more funds and FBI agents to battle the increasingly violent and always costly robberies of jewelers who travel to retail stores selling merchandise and putting on trunk shows. "When the FBI looked at the facts and figures and looked at the tremendous losses being sustained in the jewelry industry, it decided it needed to devote more resources to the problem," says Kennedy. The jewelry industry suffered over $30 million in losses in 1999, while the banking industry, for example, sustained about $4.5 million in losses, says Kennedy. "The Bureau decided it was time to give jewelry crime more attention."
Thirty Congressional representatives, who learned of the crime spree against jewelers last November during the Jewelry Industry Crime Awareness Week sponsored by the coalition, contacted the FBI to find out how it was confronting the problem. On March 2, a group of more than 20 coalition members will go to Washington to spend a day on Capitol Hill visiting congressional offices. The coalition is requesting $2 million in additional funding for the FBI to enlarge its jewelry crime fighting effort, says Kennedy. The group will break into small teams to visit multiple congressional representative and a delegation will visit the FBI and the Justice Department. The lobbying effort was orchestrated by the Washington office of Thelen, Reid & Priest, a law firm that handles JSA legal matters.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue