Jewelers Falling Victim to Distraction-Theft Gangs



The losses range from $4,000 to $20,000

Gangs of jewel thieves have recently committed distraction thefts at jewelers throughout the United States, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance warns.

There have been reported thefts with similar M.O.s at Gilroy, Calif. (pictured); North Olmstead, Ohio; Salem, N.H.; Grand Junction, Colo; and Madison Heights, Mich.

The losses in these thefts range from $4,000 to $20,000, says Jewelers’ Security Alliance president John Kennedy.

The gangs are believed to consist of Romanian Gypsies, though it is not clear if the gangs are related, Kennedy says.

In most of these cases, the group enters in a gang of two to four people, sometimes with babies, possibly in strollers. Often they to speak each other in a foreign language that’s not easily recognizable.

Group members then request to see a large number of items and then distract the sales associate with requests related to wrapping or to have the items put in a box to hold until they return. Sometimes, they cover the items with a large purse while counting out a cash payment.

At some point in the process, they typically conceal one or more items on their person. They may also attempt to place hands in the open showcase.

The thieves typically leave abruptly before the sale is consummated, sometimes because they don’t have enough cash or have only foreign money. However, they promise to come back.

The JSA warns that the best protection against distraction thefts is for sales associates to show only one item at a time. In addition, keep all showcases locked except when actually taking merchandise out or returning it to the showcase.

(Photo courtesy of Jewelers’ Security Alliance)

JCK News Director