A dramatic jump in the arrests of crooks that prey on the jewelry business led industry-related crime to fall in the first half of the year, according to statistics compiled by the Jewelers’ Security Alliance.
The overall number of reported crimes fell 13.4 percent to 641 in the year’s first half, from 740 in 2013, the lowest number in at least five years. At the same time, arrests climbed 77 percent in the first six months, from 374 to 211.
Arrests soared in part because a number of significant gangs were taken out.
“A lot of these were big crews, with five, six, seven people,” says JSA president John Kennedy, including one that committed smash and grabs, and another that hit traveling salesmen. “There is an unprecedented interest in jewelry crime from law enforcement.”
Total industry dollar losses, however, fell only slightly, to $34 million, from $35.3 million the year before.
“The criminals are being selective and choosing the higher-end stores,” Kennedy says. “They are not going after small, low-end stores.”
Robberies, burglaries, and thefts all fell from the prior year, but off-premises crime was flat. One jeweler was killed in the first half of the year.
Among the less positive trends Kennedy has seen: an increase in credit card fraud. Recently, three members of a con group were arrested, but only after swindling about 100 jewelers. Now there are reports of a similar gang that has already conned three jewelers.
“Jewelers have to be careful with in-store credit,” Kennedy warned. “Examine the credentials that are submitted very carefully. Look at the logos, look at the hologram.”
Another disturbing trend: More jewelers firing guns. “Sometimes jewelers are taking the first shot,” he says. “That is a little disturbing and very dangerous. It happened too frequently in the first half.”
The JSA and law enforcement have long advised jewelers not to use firearms or have them in their stores.
Kennedy says the best thing jewelers can do is to get involved with a local information-sharing crime network. Those interested in starting such a group should contact JSA.