Jewelers’ Security Alliance lauds progress but warns industry still “dangerous”
Crimes against the jewelry industry fell 14.7 percent in 2015, according a new report from the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA), which attributes the drop to greater focus on jewelry-related crime by law enforcement.
The number of crimes against the industry fell from 1,381 in 2014 to 1,177 in 2015, a 14.7 percent drop. Total dollar losses also plunged from $77.8 million in 2014 to $69.3 million in 2015, a 10.9 percent fall. That amounts to a 63.2 percent decline since 1998 in inflation-adjusted dollars and a 22.5 percent decline in the last five years.
“Generally, it’s all moving in the right direction,” says John Kennedy, JSA president. “This is still a very dangerous business, but it’s much less dangerous than it was 10 or 20 years ago. People shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. But there is significant law enforcement work, and jewelers are making greater efforts to be more careful and follow proper security procedures.”
The arrests of two major smash-and-grab robbery gangs, as well as a major rooftop burglary gang, led to substantial decreases in the number of those crimes.
“We are getting tremendous support from the FBI,” Kennedy says. “There are gangs that commit crimes in a half dozen states. An investigation can take a long time and involve a lot of cooperation between different agencies, but they eventually get these guys.”
This year, there were two jewelry-crime related fatalities, compared to three the prior year. For a time, the JSA hoped that the year would see no deaths, then a jeweler was killed in November.
“Since we have been keeping records, there has never been a year where there were no jewelers killed,” Kennedy says. “One year in the 1980s there were 47 jewelers killed. Last year there were two. We hate to see anyone killed, but the difference between 47 and two is astronomical.”
Three jewelers were also the victims of nonfatal shots during the year.
As for negative trends, the JSA warns that when jewelers engage in firefights with robbers, it can backfire, Kennedy says.
“We see too many jewelers shooting at bad guys,” he says. “I don’t feel sorry for the bad guys, but that is a very dangerous thing to do. You may hit the wrong person in an 1,800-square-foot store, or you might provoke violence against yourself and the bad guy may kill you. With the jewelers that get killed, that is generally what happens. There is also a danger of the gang coming back later and retaliating against the jeweler or their family.”
Overall, though, the JSA says this year’s reports shows positive trends.
“We are seeing progress, but it’s a neverending battle,” Kennedy says.