JSA: Jewelry Crime Fell in 2007

Overall crime in the jewelry industry fell by a substantial margin in 2007, according to statistics compiled by the Jewelers’ Security Alliance.

“It was another year of things heading in the right direction,” says JSA chairman John Kennedy. “You always get pockets of things that are not good, but overall there has been a big decline in crime against the industry.”

There were 1,291 criminal events in 2007, a 9.2 percent drop from 2006’s 1,422 events, JSA said. The amount of dollar losses fell 11.9 percent to $97.1 million. Losses in dollars have fallen 41 percent since 1998, when they totaled $164.66 million.

Kennedy notes there was only one member of the jewelry industry killed in a crime-related event in 2007—the lowest number in the two generations JSA has been keeping records. That fatality occurred in November 2007, when a New York City jeweler was stabbed to death by an employee who was caught stealing jewelry.

“We are in April 2008, and there was only one person killed since March 2006,” he says. “That’s unprecedented. Nobody should be killed, but that’s better than 15 killed a year.”

The decline in crime and fatalities is due to “a combination of arrests, bad guys avoiding the industry, and jewelers being more aware of the risks they face in fighting back,” Kennedy says. “Robbers are finding there are easier targets than the jewelry industry. We’re not so easy for them anymore.”

Dollar losses for on-premises crime (which includes robberies, thefts, and burglaries at jewelry locations) fell 26 percent to $57.6 million. There were 1,114 crime events for 2007, a 12.1 per-cent drop year-over-year.

The most active state for on-premises crime (out of 36 states that reported) was California, followed by Texas, Florida, and New York.

Kennedy notes there has been an increase lately in burglaries, particularly of T130 safes in the Texas area. “The criminals have figured out how to enter those safes relatively easily. We have warned the industry about it, but there are a lot of those safes still out there.”

On the negative side, off-premises crimes rose by double digits.

Dollar losses increased 21.5 percent to $35.2 million and the number of cases rose 14.2 percent to 177. Traveling salespersons are almost always the victims. More than 30 percent of these types of robberies involved a knife or gun, and in 29 percent of the cases the victim was physically assaulted, according to JSA.

“Traveling salesmen theft was up a bit, and we are keeping a close eye on that,” Kennedy says. “It’s still half of what it was 10 years ago. We are seeing a big uptick on attacks on Asian salesmen on the West Coast. I don’t have an answer why yet. I have been here 16 years and have never before seen a trend where the ethnicity of the traveling salesperson impacted their rate of attack.”

Yet overall, Kennedy says, the industry has become much smarter and security conscious, and that’s made the difference. “We think the local networks that are developing will lead to much more information sharing and communication with local police,” he says. “And that should drive things down further.”

Crime in 2007 Events

On Premises 12.1%
Off Premises 14.2%
Total 9.2%

Dollar Losses

Note: Comparisons are with 2006 figures.
Source: Jewelers’ Security
On Premises 26%
Off-Premises 21.5%
Total 11.9%