JSA Lobbies for New Task Force

The Jewelers Security Alliance has resumed lobbying the federal government on behalf of the industry’s anti-jewelry crime coalition. JSA suspended lobbying after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and delayed resumption while the FBI reorganized to focus on homeland security.

This year, JSA is modifying its lobbying strategy, says JSA president John J. Kennedy. First, it will urge the FBI to create a task force in the Southeast to fight robberies of traveling jewelry salespeople by South American gangs. Thefts are rising due to—ironically—a two-year crackdown by the FBI and local law enforcement officials on theft gangs in California, especially Los Angeles. The gangs have moved elsewhere, especially to the Southeast. The areas most affected are Texas, Florida, North and South Carolina, and the Atlanta area.

Second, JSA won’t lobby Congress this year for more resources for the FBI’s crime-fighting efforts. Congress has “so many [national] security issues on its plate” in the wake of Sept. 11, notes Kennedy, that JSA lobbying would get scant attention. But two new initiatives resulting from the Sept. 11 tragedy have benefited jewelry security: a crackdown on illegal immigration—hindering entry of foreign jewelry thieves—and improved security at airports, traditionally an arena for jewelry thefts.

Third, JSA is doing more of what Kennedy calls “local lobbying”—meeting with law enforcement officials in cities like Atlanta, Houston, and Charlotte, N.C., to “encourage them to give more attention to jewelry crime,” especially robberies of traveling salespeople. JSA also is working more closely with private fraternal associations of local law enforcement people around the country, sponsoring meetings and providing speakers and materials to make them more aware of jewelry thefts.

Kennedy notes that while the FBI has shifted resources to fighting terrorism, it hasn’t weakened its fight against jewelry crime. “We’re seeing great cooperation by the Bureau and a real desire to help the industry fight jewelry thieves,” he says.