Crimes against jewelry businesses are surging, and security experts are asking jewelers who are potential targets for robberies and smash-and-grabs to review and update their safety measures to protect themselves this holiday season and beyond.
“Make no mistake: Crime against retail establishments, including jewelry stores, are at the highest levels seen in over 20–30 years,” says Andrew Chipman, vice president of jewelers block at Berkley Asset Protection.
“Armed robberies, smash-grab-run, grab-and-run, after-hours out-of-safe losses have all increased dramatically in 2022, and have been increasing since 2020—especially due to the pandemic,” says Chipman, who has 17 years of experience in the jewelers’ block insurance space, helping jewelers with loss-prevention advice.
To that end, both Berkley Asset Protection and Jewelers Mutual Group are working with jewelers who are stepping up their safety and security standards.
On Dec. 1, Jewelers Mutual announced its new Partner for Protection movement, which it describes as a rallying cry that gives jewelers actionable tips to protect themselves, their staff, and their businesses in light of recent crime. Partner for Protection is a pledge that gives jewelers a digital tool kit, store assets, and information to boost safety and awareness in their local communities.
Jewelers Mutual says U.S. jewelry industry crime is up 15% year-over-year and has risen 50% from 2019. Some states are seeing dramatic increases. For example, California jewelers experienced a 200% increase in smash-and-grab robberies in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021, according to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA).
In some Canadian communities, daytime crime, including armed robberies, smash-and-grabs, and grab-and-runs have increased more than 300% year- over-year, according to data derived from JSA and Jewelers Mutual.
Risk management and education are core to the loss-prevention practices at Jewelers Mutual, says Mike Alexander, chief operating officer. As a result, Jewelers Mutual Group is revamping its online learning program with support from JSA, launching a new curriculum of interactive foundational courses in early 2023, Alexander says.
“The courses are designed to help retailers train their staff on how to be a less likely target to criminals with topics on preventing burglary, theft, and robbery as well as proper procedures for traveling with merchandise, disaster/emergency preparation, and more,” Alexander says.
Jewelers Mutual also is collaborating with JSA and Jewellers Vigilance Canada to step up those relationships, Alexander says. The trends they find also guide the expansion of its risk services portfolio “to fill the gaps in service needs and help jewelers make their businesses safer and more secure,” he says.
“This work is essential to provide the right resources, services, and risk solutions to help jewelry businesses protect themselves. Through our collaborations, we are able to share up-to-date crime data as well as provide key education and resources from experts throughout the industry,” Alexander says.
At Berkley Asset Protection, Chipman says they are asking jewelers to take some immediate and long-term actions to protect themselves. Jewelers could have a meeting with sales staff as they go into the all-important holiday season, reminding everyone of security protocols. These can range from blocking customers from wearing hooded sweatshirts or sunglasses in the store to carefully screening shipping carrier delivery people and requiring them to show identification to be allowed into the store.
“Most criminals understand that jewelers are displaying more inventory around the holiday season. As a result, they see this as an opportune time to strike given the increased values, better chances of having distracted staff due to helping holiday shoppers, and the challenge of jewelers not being able to have an adequate number of staff given the labor crunch,” Chipman says.
Chipman says Berkley creates tip sheets for jewelers and recommends businesses invest in security at every level: heavy-duty laminate showcases, upgrading to a CCTV system in 4K, and cameras pointed both at the entrance and the safes or vaults in case burglars can get past the alarm system.
“Criminals want to be in and out of the store as quickly as possible, generally 2–3 minutes at most,” Chipman says. “Implementing [these tips] will reduce the amount they can get in that time.”
Jewelers themselves have noticed the surge and are working together through social media, including a new Facebook group specifically targeted at sharing information and creating local crime alerts and other forms of communication to highlight best practices and advice about what they’re seeing in their individual communities.
Top: Jewelers Mutual Group’s Mike Alexander is helping launch Partner for Protection, which seeks to create an “industry-wide movement dedicated to building awareness and promoting collective action” (photo courtesy of Jewelers Mutual Group).
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