Crime Stoppers: How Jewelers Can Spot Criminals

The two top executives from the Jewelers Security Alliance—president John J. Kennedy and vice president Scott Guginsky—led a seminar Friday on crime prevention, “How Can a Jeweler Spot Criminals on the Road or in the Store?,” that analyzed 10 red flags that could indicate a possible crime.

The punchy presentation was punctuated by a slideshow of security-camera photos capturing real-life criminals.

“Inform the person that you would be happy to serve them as soon as they finish their call,” he said. “If you have someone who’s on their phone the entire time you’re dealing with them, you have a problem.”

Customers refusing to take off their dark sunglasses (and aren’t elderly) should also put retailers on alert. “Do people look at diamonds with sunglasses on?” asked Kennedy. “No.” A hat pulled down low over a face and clothing that doesn’t match the weather (think big puffy coats in the summer) are other red flags.

“You wear jackets like that when it’s warm because you have a gun under your jacket,” said Guginsky, a former NYPD officer. “Or they could also be hiding a bulletproof vest.”

Shoppers who come into a store as part of a large group should also be watched closely. “Will you be able to adequately protect your merchandise with a large number of people in your store?” asked Kennedy. Guginsky warned about the tricky tactics of gypsy gangs who create elaborate distractions to nab jewels. He recalled seeing footage of “one woman wearing flowing clothes crawling into the back room on her stomach, putting a ton of stuff under her clothes, and crawling back out” while her family members distracted employees.

A shopper asking to see the most expensive item in the store should be observed very carefully as well, added the security experts, who recommend establishing a price threshold where staffers ask to see identification when a consumer wants to try on something superexpensive. (Tip: Blame it on “insurance company rules.”)

Consumers who are a little too curious about store hours, security equipment, and staffing should also set off your inner alarm. “Nobody should be looking up at the ceiling at surveillance cameras,” said Guginsky. “Sometimes when you go back and look at surveillance, you see them looking up and seeing where cameras are. The signs are always there.”