JSA issues disaster recommendations, warns against theft gang activity

The Jewelers Security Alliance, in the wake of the Sept. 11 catastrophe, next week will issue revised recommendations to jewelers and jewelry companies on preparations for sudden emergencies.

“This horrible tragic event must remind jewelers to be prepared for emergencies of all kinds, be it bombs, weather disasters, fires or others,” says John Kennedy, president of the 9,000 member organization. The revised seven-page list, originally prepared in the 1990s and part of the JSA manual, tells what a business must do to be ready for any kind of disaster. It will be available in JSA’s newsletter and on its website (whose new URL is www.jewelerssecurity.org).

Kennedy also told JCK that South American theft gangs are expected to “take full advantage of this crisis” and increase their robberies against traveling jewelry salespeople, according to reliable law enforcement sources.

“We all have to be more vigilant, in stores or on the road, because we can’t expect temporarily for now the type of law enforcement response we had before [the Sept. 11 disaster],” he said.

Lobbying suspended. JSA has suspended its lobbying, on behalf of the industry’s Security Coalition, for more government funding for the FBI to fight jewelry crimes, especially South American theft gangs, and for a gem theft task force to be set up in the Southeast because of rising crimes there. “It’s inappropriate to divert [government and law enforcement officials] from their critical missions at the moment,” Kennedy told JCK. Lobbying will resume after Jan. 1, 2002, he said.

Ironically, crime generally will probably be lower for a couple months. In New York, it is down as much as 50% since Sept. 11, “but history teaches that in emergencies crimes usually goes down,” says Kennedy, “because the criminal’s normal patterns are disrupted. Also, there are more police checking suspicious behavior of individuals.”

Airport security. Meanwhile, JSA has gotten many phone calls from traveling people about the opening carry-on jewelry cases at airport security points, about the safety of flying and about shipping items.

JSA’s response, says Kennedy, is that opening carry-on jewelry bags for airport security shouldn’t be a problem. “We’ve never had a case of South American gangs waiting at a security point to see if a bag has jewelry and then stealing it. They don’t wait for that; they’ll follow a salesperson to or from an airport, and will try to steal any bag the person has. So, it doesn’t increase the risk to open a bag at airport security, but tell security what is in the bag and ask them to open quietly and aside, is possible.

In addition, says Kennedy, “airports have never been safer for jewelers or salespeople than at this moment. They have armed people, in Army fatigues, patrolling the airports, as well as more law enforcement. So, the South Americans won’t be so active around there.”

As for shipping items, Kennedy endorsed the recommendation of the Jewelers Mutual Insurance (see preceding story): Ship items by the U.S. Postal Service’s Express mail, and registered, and when things go back to normal, to return to “regular shipping practices.”