JCK Show: JSA’s second meeting with legislators deemed a success

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) recently returned to Washington in order lobby for continued support in its efforts to combat violent thefts to traveling jewelry salespersons.

This is the second time that jewelry industry leaders met with legislators. John Kennedy, JSA president, said during a JSA meeting held Monday during the JCK Show, that last year’s direct meeting with various legislators resulted in additional funding and the forming of a special FBI task force to combat crime against traveling salespersons.

This year, the focus was different, Kennedy said. Instead of an all-out blitz of industry representatives coming to Washington, a handful of representatives met with key members of the Congressional subcommittee and their staff to ask for them to maintain their level of support for FBI programs. The meetings were held April 4 and 5.

“We’ve definitely have made a big impression on Congress,” Kennedy said. “We went to make sure that they will remain firm in pushing the FBI.”

The group met with four members of the Senate and two members of the House (or their staff). JSA didn’t request more funding. Instead, they asked legislators to continue to transfer agents to the FBI task force, which has dramatically lowered traveling salespersons thefts in the past year.

“We definitely made a big impression on Congress and the FBI,” Kennedy said about the April trip to Washington. “We received a tremendously good response. We have a tremendously good feeling that Congress will come through again. It’s not going to fail.”

One JSA member noted that legislators were impressed by the fact that the JSA did not ask for more money but for continued “service.”

The increased federal presence has resulted in a dramatic downturn in thefts of traveling salesmen and trunk show loses. For example, the number of attacks on traveling salespersons fell from 323 incidents in 1999 to 180 incidents in 2000. It appears that the decline in attacks is continuing in 2001, Kennedy said.

Kennedy added the lobbying effort has to be a permanent part of JSA strategy. “The lobbying effort is going to be ongoing forever,” he said. “If we go away you can guarantee they will dismantle the task force.”

Not only has there been an increase in arrests in these types of crime, but enforcement has been stringent, Kennedy said. In 2000 there were 80 arrests and people were sentenced to 10-to-15-year jail terms, Kennedy said.