More Traveling Jewelers Attacked in '99

March 20, 2000

More Traveling Jewelers Attacked in '99

Thefts, robberies and burglaries of U.S. jewelry stores declined in 1999, but these encouraging statistics were more than offset by a sharp increase in attacks on traveling jewelry salespeople that usually involved guns and, often, violence.

Robberies at trunk shows increased, accounting for 11% of losses suffered by salespeople, according to annual crime statistics released by the Jewelers' Security Alliance. Fifteen people were killed during armed robberies in 1999: eight retail jewelers, two security guards, one police officer and four suspected robbers. The report includes statistics for 30 states, down from 34 states in the 1998 report.

Attacks on jewelry stores netted $57.6 million, down 23% from $74.6 million the previous year. Off-premises losses suffered by traveling salespeople leaped, however – up 44% from $43.1 million to $76.5 million. Robberies accounted for two-thirds of all losses by jewelry salesman and those losses were larger than losses to theft or burglary. Robbery losses averaged $300,000, while thefts (32% of all crimes) averaged $152,000 and burglaries (2 % of crimes), $156,000. Nearly two-thirds of salesperson robberies involved a gun, according to the JSA re···. In addition, more than a third of robberies included some violence.

More than half of crimes against traveling salespeople occurred in parking lots. According to the report, no other industry experiences greater dollar losses or incidents of violence. In comparison, it reported, the average bank robbery nets only $2,500-$4,000 and is usually non-violent. Trunk show robberies have increased since 1997. In 1999, 34 such attacks were reported in 15 states, with an average loss of $422,000. The largest was a $4.5 million loss in Cincinnati, OH, in September 1999. In March 1999, a guard transporting high-end watches to a Nashville, TN, trunk show was shot and killed. Nearly half of all salesperson losses occurred in California and Florida.

- by Mark E. Dixon