Robberies of traveling jewelry salespersons dropped 47% in 2000 to the lowest number since the mid-1980s, says the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA).
The encouraging news was announced Jan. 13 at JSA’s annual luncheon/meeting in New York City, attended by 135 jewelry industry leaders. The meeting focused on JSA’s successful lobbying efforts in 2000 to increase funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s fight against jewelry crimes (see related story), the strong increase in enforcement by the FBI and local law officials, and the resulting sharp reduction in crimes against traveling salespeople.
JSA president John Kennedy said that in 2000 there were 179 criminal attacks on traveling salespeople, almost all by South American robbery gangs. That was down from 334 in 2000. Robberies of trunk and remount shows fell from 24 in 1999 to 5 last year. Kennedy attributed the decreases to more successful investigations, arrests, and prosecutions by the FBI and local enforcement agencies. ‘The jewelry industry has never seen such intense and varied action by the FBI on its behalf,’ he said.
Examples of this FBI action include an FBI/Los Angeles Police Department task force that arrested 64 South American gang members; FBI arrests in Chicago of a gang of jewelry thieves led by a former Chicago chief of detectives that preyed on traveling salespeople; arrests within three hours in Atlanta of two South American suspects who forcibly robbed a traveling salesperson of $400,000 in jewelry; FBI arrests of two employees of a national retailer of jewelry who committed a string of burglaries at the retailer’s stores in several states, including a $1 million loss; and assignment of more personnel to FBI jewelry crime task forces and as specialists in such crimes, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Florida.
Kennedy noted jewelry industry homicides have also decreased. In 1992, there was a high of 37; last year, there were nine. ‘One life lost is too many,’ said Kennedy, ‘[but] this dramatic decline in homicides is at least partially due to the effectiveness’ of JSA’s training, warning bulletins, and work with the FBI and police departments ‘from coast-to-coast.’