If you could prevent someone from stealing thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from your store, would you do it? Of course, you say. Then why don’t more jewelers do that?
Three-minute burglaries (3MB) cost jewelers millions annually, yet they’re the most preventable [jewelry] crime that isn’t being prevented, says John J. Kennedy, president of Jewelers’ Security Alliance.
In three-minute burglaries, thieves break into a store through a glass window or door, steal merchandise left in display cases or show windows, and flee in three minutes or less—and in many cases, in less than a minute. “These crooks never go after the safe, and they don’t worry about setting off an alarm, because they’re gone before the police or alarm company can respond,” notes Kennedy.
Frequency. Three-minute burglaries are the most frequent crimes against jewelers, representing two-thirds to three-fourths of all U.S. jewelry-store burglaries annually. They’re also among the costliest. In 2004, 3MBs accounted for merchandise losses valued at $9 million. Many of those thefts cost individual jewelers $100,000 or more.
However, actual losses to 3MBs are always much higher than published, because at least a third of jewelers suffering them don’t have a final loss figure when they report the crime (to police or JSA) or simply list losses as $1 rather than publicize an actual amount.
In addition, cost to a jeweler is always more than just stolen merchandise. As Kennedy puts it, “Having your store trashed is very detrimental to business.” There’s damage to doors, windows, showcases, and/or other fixtures or equipment, all needing repair or replacement, he notes. There’s interruption of business because of lost selling time while the store is closed for repairs, and stolen inventory must be replaced. There’s harm to the morale of the jeweler and staff, and damage to public confidence because of the publicity.
This problem isn’t going away. While some crimes against jewelers, such as robberies and safe attacks, have decreased—thanks to improved alarm, surveillance, and safe technology—three-minute burglaries have increased. A decade ago, less than half of all jewelry-store burglaries were 3MBs. Today, at least two out of three are (see chart p. 106).
Low-Tech Crime. The irony is that this costly crime is so low-tech. It requires only throwing a rock or heavy object through a glass door or window (or occasionally forcing a door), smashing glass display cases, grabbing as much merchandise as possible, and fleeing. Nothing glamorous, nothing complicated.
Yet, few 3MB crooks—usually one person, sometimes two, rarely more—are caught (under 10 percent, say estimates), unless a policeman happens by or a neighbor sees something.
Why? Timing is a reason. This is a night crime, committed between midnight and 6 a.m. (usually 3 a.m. to 4 a.m.) when stores are closed and no one is on the street.
Another reason is that while this crime needs no expertise, those who do it usually specialize in it. Despite the occasional spontaneous break-in by a drug addict, drunk, or teen gang member, for the most part, this is the business of [3MB thieves], says Kennedy. “They know what they’re doing. They’ve cased the store and know what they want and how to get in and get away before police get there.”
Letting It Happen. However, there’s another big reason this crime is so frequent and costly: Too many jewelers simply let it happen.
“The real challenge isn’t stopping [3MB thieves], but getting jewelers to secure their property safely, properly, and out-of-sight overnight and whenever closed,” says David Sexton, vice president of loss prevention at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. “It’s a drum we’re constantly beating.”
What are jewelers doing wrong? Experts cite the following:
Leaving out some—or even much—of their merchandise overnight in showcases and windows even though, “if thieves see it, they’ll try to steal it,” says Kennedy. Some leave out only inexpensive items, thinking there’s less risk. “But these thieves don’t know their value,” Sexton says. “To them, anything sparkling or shiny looks expensive.”
Turning off security-camera surveillance systems overnight or not having any at all.
Turning off or dimming store lighting inside and out.
Not having adequate security protection for doors, windows, and showcases. “Some doors’ locks are so weak, a little pressure can force them open,” notes Kennedy.
Covering showcases at night. One East Coast jeweler routinely did so and even padlocked the cover blankets, reasoning if thieves couldn’t see into cases, merchandise inside was safe. It wasn’t. “A thief thinks differently,” says Robert W. Frank, JSA vice president and former policeman. “He sees draped cases and asks himself, ‘Why’s that covered? Because something is in it.’ And he’ll try to get it.”
Reasons. These jewelers say in their own defense that they have good reasons for going unprotected. A big one is that it takes too long or costs too much (in staff time and pay) to put everything away nightly. Another is that fine merchandise must be handled carefully, and something may get scratched, damaged, or shop-worn from the constant “ins and outs.”
Others say they don’t have room in their safe or vault for everything. Each jeweler, of course, must put away enough to meet insurance requirements, based on the nature and value of the merchandise. But some try to reduce their in-safe requirement and burglary premium by leaving out less expensive items. They may put 70 percent of inventory in-safe, for example, but leave out items priced under $100. Yet, while inexpensive individually, these items together are worth thousands.
A number say they don’t worry about 3MBs because they’re insured or because the likelihood of it happening to them seems remote—even though, as Kennedy notes, “almost everyone knows someone it’s happened to.” Once it does happen to a jeweler, adds Frank, “the next day, all excuses go away, and they begin doing something about prevention.”
Deterring 3MBs. So, how can a jeweler deter three-minute burglaries? Here’s what experts recommend:
Out of Sight. Put away as much merchandise each night as possible. If all can’t fit into the vault or safe, says Kennedy, put the rest, or most of it, into a smaller safe, lockable cabinet, or even a lockable drawer under the showcase. “That will significantly reduce losses,” notes Sexton. “If [three-minute burglars] can’t see anything in the cases, there’s no reason for them to break into them.”
Trays and Cases. Use merchandise display trays to remove, store, and set up. Some jewelers even use baker’s carts (wheeled trolleys with multiple shelves for trays), Sexton notes, into which they put all trays and wheel right into the vault.
Newer Options. Kennedy says that there are new showcases whose top half with display trays descends into the lower half and is automatically covered at night, showing an empty showcase. These are already used by some large chains but their price—approximately $2,000—is affordable even for small jewelers.
In all these examples, setup and take-down time is reduced, and there’s little or no handling of merchandise, preventing damage or scratching.
Vigilance. Install 24-hour security-camera surveillance inside and out. “Many jewelers turn off cameras at night to save money, but the cost of leaving them on is negligible,” says Kennedy. Seeing cameras can deter some from break-ins, and the cameras provide useful information to catch those who do. One New York jeweler’s video system recently provided police with pictures not only of the thief but also of his car and license plate.
Also, keep lighting on overnight inside and out. “Some think erroneously that lights attract criminals,” said Sexton. “Actually, it discourages burglars and crime.”
Gates. Install pull-down metal security gates for store windows and doorways. These slow down and deter 3MB crooks. “They want to get in and out quickly, not cut through something that takes time,” says Kennedy. “And, there are all types of gates to suit a store’s architectural style and cost only a couple thousand dollars.”
Tough Glass. Use security glass in windows and cases, especially in stores with what Sexton calls “significant window-glass exposure.” These can be installed when a store is built or renovated. There are also security glass filaments (film) that can be put on windows and display cases to reinforce glass.
Design Security. Whenever a jeweler remodels, relocates, builds, or adds a store, Sexton says to consider carefully what is needed to properly secure merchandise at night. “Talk to the insurance carrier providing your jewelers block coverage about what you need and the security equipment suppliers to go to,” he says. The JSA Web site also has a directory of security service and product suppliers (www.jewelerssecurity.org).
“Security is a complete package and a 24-hour concern,” notes Frank. “It isn’t one thing you do to prevent one crime, but everything you do to enhance your security that reduces the likelihood that three-minute burglars—who do watch—will come for you.
“Consider two jewelry stores,” he says. “One has security cameras, puts its jewelry away at night, has window and door gates, a JSA sticker, burglary-resistant glass, and good locks. A three-minute burglar casing it will think, ‘These people are careful. This isn’t worth the risk.’ Then he sees the other store leaves stuff out overnight, has no surveillance cameras, no gates, and is poorly lit. He thinks, ‘These people are careless. There’s no risk.’ “Which one do you think he’ll hit?”
AUTHOR: William George Shuster, July 1, 2005, JCK Online
Ask any self-respecting thief about his dream destination for the greatest robbery; jewelry stores and banks would definitely be among his top three options. Diamonds may be a woman’s best friend; they are close to the heart of a thief too. So, how do you secure your shop from all those thieving criminals out there?
The thought that your establishment could be the favorite hunting ground for any nefarious character out there is enough to give a lifetime of sleepless nights. Hence, providing the best security for your merchandise is as much important as selling the best product. Of course, the very first option is security people to guard the area.
Security Systems for Jewelry Store
But, what if someone manages to get inside the store circumventing the security guards? Or how would you know if one of your trusted employees decides to help herself to a few of the items that are on sale? The only option here would be to install commercial video security systems and cameras. They help a lot in adding to the security of the place. Surveillance cameras have also aided of the police in nabbing criminals after the deed has been done and they have managed to escape.
CCTV protection and the Lohan controversy
Close circuit television cameras are the obvious choice for security. They can act as a very strong deterrent in stopping criminals. Cheap CCTVs are available in the market that would help to protect your store against a multitude of threats like shoplifting, vandalism and other unexpected casualties.
Anyone who is familiar with the happenings in Hollywood would be more than aware of the controversy surrounding the allegations of shoplifting against the celebrated actress, Lindsey Lohan. The footage of Lohan walking out of the jewelry store wearing a $2,500 necklace without paying for it have been watched by millions around the globe by now.
Well, whatever is your conclusion about the charges against Lohan being real or framed, one thing is certain – the CCTV footage covering the 45 minutes of her visit to the store has been one of the key elements in deciding her fate before the court.
And then the incident in North London where the police captured a 17-year-old youth for looting a jewelry store that had video surveillance. The arrest was made possible by the images captured by the surveillance cameras. In fact, the Dubai government is planning to make it mandatory for certain high risk firms to have compulsory video surveillance signature systems to ensure safety.
Another huge advantage of CCTV monitoring is most insurance companies follow the policy of offering lower premiums for establishments having CCTV coverage, thereby drastically reducing your insurance premium.
This is ideal for small business houses. Advantage is that it is easy to install and can be done without professional help. Earlier, the wireless systems had the disadvantage of being easy to intercept and for a tech-savvy robber it would be just child’s play to work miracles with the footage. In such cases, the wireless surveillance can be a liability and not an advantage. But the modern versions come in encrypted versions which cannot be tampered with. Hence, invest in only the best cameras system to make sure that you get most returns from your cameras.
Protect The Nerve Center
The safe deposit locker or the storage area is of course the most vulnerable place in a jewelry store and… surprisingly, it could be the most vulnerable too! Most jewelry store owners trust their locker system so much that they find it an unnecessary expense to install security cameras in this area.
Thieves too have become technologically advanced, you know. In this era of high-tech robbery no safe deposit locker is safe from a robber who has done his homework well. So, secure this area with motion activated security camera as they would be the ideal choice to protect your valuables during the after business hours.
If you have the wherewithal to invest in a jewelry store selling merchandise worth millions of dollars, be smart enough to spend some more to protect your store with the best camera security system. After all, robbery has become a serious business too.
-BY SMARTFOXSECURITY · TUE 29, 2013
Encountering an armed robber is one of the scariest things a jeweler can experience, but experts say there are certain measures you can take to prevent a robbery, or to minimize the damage should one take place, as well as advice you should follow during and after an encounter that will help keep you safe. These tips come from the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, insurance professionals, retailers, and other industry experts.
1. Vary your route to and from the store and keep an eye on your rearview mirror to make sure you’re not being followed.
2. Don’t open or close the store alone. While one employee locks or unlocks the door, a second employee should watch from a safe distance that still gives a good view of the door. The second person also should have a mobile phone to call the police if the coworker is confronted.
3. Observe the surroundings of the store when you arrive. If a person or car is loitering by the building, or if doors or windows appear open or tampered with, stay out of sight and call police.
4. Don’t let anyone enter the store before you’ve opened or after you’ve closed at night.
5. Verify the identification of delivery drivers and other people who come into your store.
6. Use a buzzer system, doorbell, or chime so you know when someone is entering the store.
7. Think twice before installing two locking doors with a vestibule. Armed robbers who are trapped are more likely to shoot their way out.
Observe the surroundings of the store when you arrive. If a person or car is loitering by the building, or if doors or windows appear open or tampered with, stay out of sight and call the police.
8. Have at least two employees—three is even better—on the floor at all times. The chance of armed robbery goes up with only one person on the floor.
9. Train all associates on how to spot and respond to suspicious people and behavior.
10. Have employees take breaks at different times so a would-be robber won’t know when the store is likely to be the most lightly staffed.
11. Look at and greet all customers who enter your store, and keep a careful eye on those who avoid interacting with you or seem preoccupied.
12. Keep a close watch on groups that come in together, especially if they arrive at an odd hour or seem to be signaling or surreptitiously communicating with one another.
13. Robbers often visit an intended target beforehand to case it. Be observant of anyone who seems to be paying more attention to the details of the premises—like looking for cameras—and staff procedures than the merchandise.
14. Keep an eye out for individuals or vehicles loitering outside directly in sight of your store.
15. Keep a “suspicious incidents” log book. When an incident raises a red flag, jot down times, dates, descriptions of people or cars, license plate numbers, and anything else you notice.
16. Be proactive and reach out to your local police department. Discuss with them the special problems jewelers encounter and keep them apprised of any suspicious behavior you observe.
17. Install a surveillance camera and recording system. Make some cameras obvious (so would-be crooks know they’re being watched) and others concealed. Consider having a second recorder or storing the video remotely, so a thief can’t take the device and rob you of evidence as well.
18. Use reinforced glass or display cases specially made to resist the force of a smash-and-grab robbery.
19. Don’t leave valuable merchandise in your store window after you close for the day.
20. Don’t show a shopper more than one item at a time; keep their hands in your peripheral vision even if you’re retrieving an item they request.
21. Install a one-way mirror in your store. Even if there’s nobody watching on the other side, a potential robber won’t know that.
Install a surveillance camera and recording system. Make some cameras obvious (so would-be crooks know they’re being watched) and others concealed. Consider having a second recorder or storing the video remotely, so a thief can’t take the device and rob you of evidence as well.
22. Have height markers along the doorways so police looking at surveillance footage can determine how tall a robber is.
23. Select a code word or phrase as an alert, so all employees know someone is exhibiting suspicious behavior, but customers won’t be alarmed.
24. If a person is merely acting suspicious but hasn’t (yet) committed a crime, a cellphone can be a powerful deterrent. Have an employee leave the store while dialing a cellphone in plain sight. Or hold your phone in such a way that you could be viewing the screen—or taking a photograph.
25. If the employee going outside can do so in a safe manner, he or she also should note car descriptions and license plate numbers.
26. Don’t keep all your highest value items in one display case. If they’re scattered throughout the store, then you won’t lose as much in a smash-and-grab.
27. Consider not displaying all your stock of your priciest pieces like diamonds and watches.
28. If customers inquire about an item of particular value that’s not on display—such as a collection of loose diamonds—be aware that they may be watching to see where you keep these items. If their behavior or demeanor seems suspicious, just say you don’t have what they’re looking for.
29. When the amount of merchandise—and subsequent risk—increases during special events like trunk shows, consider hiring an armed guard or off-duty police officer.
30. Make sure your store interior is clearly visible from the street. Limit the number of banners or signs so your employees can see anything suspicious outside and passersby can see inside.
31. No one wants to contemplate the unpleasant, but prepare a plan of action so all employees know the procedure if a robbery attempt is made.
32. Maintain an up-to-date list of emergency contact numbers near the telephone.
33. Do what the robbers tell you and try not to panic.
34. Don’t do anything to challenge the robbers verbally or physically—such as attempting to wrestle a gun away from them.
35. Avoid sudden movements and potentially threatening gestures, such as raising your hands.
36. Don’t stare them down. Direct eye contact can be construed as a provocation.
37. Tell the robbers anything that might surprise them, like an employee in the back or someone you’re expecting to arrive. Caught off guard, they may be more likely to resort to violence.
38. Take mental notes so you can tell police as much as possible: How many robbers are there? How tall are they? What’s their hair, eye, and skin color? What are they wearing? Do they have distinctive features like scars, tattoos, or facial hair?
39. If you see any weapons, try to memorize what they look like; those details could help the police in their investigation.
40. Observe what they touch (cases, doorknobs, etc.) so that you can alert the police to possible fingerprint evidence when they arrive.
41. Don’t pull a gun of your own if they already have a gun pointed at you. Remember, they have the advantage of time; they could shoot you before you get a chance to fire yours.
42. The less time the robbers are in the store, the less risk of injury. Once robbers have the merchandise, they can be expected to leave quickly.
43. If you are out of the robber’s sight and he or she is unaware of your presence, keep it that way. Walking into a crime in progress could mean risking your life.
44. Don’t chase or follow the robbers out of the store.
45. Don’t hit a panic button or holdup alarm until after the thieves leave. Police confronting an armed robber could result in a shootout or hostage situation.
If you are out of the robber’s sight and he or she is unaware of your presence, keep it that way. Walking into a crime in progress could mean risking your life.
46. After they leave, lock the door behind them and call police.
47. Don’t clean off display cases or other surfaces because that could destroy fingerprints or other valuable evidence.
48. Try to keep witnesses present until the police arrive, or at least get their contact information so police can follow up with them later.
49. Do not talk to the media, permit cameras, or allow your employees to be interviewed.
50. Get a copy of the police report to submit to your insurance company. Prepare to collect inventory and purchase records that the insurer will use to verify your loss.
-Martha C. White | May 20, 2013 JCK Online