But hacked emails pose growing problem
The number of crimes against the jewelry industry dropped in the first six months of 2016, continuing the trend of recent years, thanks to increased action from law enforcement and better security precautions from jewelers, according to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA).
The number of reported crimes fell from 562 to 528. U.S. dollar losses decreased from $33.2 million to $30.8 million.
“The trends are still favorable,” says John Kennedy, JSA president, who thinks industry consolidation is partly behind the good news. “There are fewer salesman losses because there are fewer salesmen on the road.”
Of course, crime has not gone away: In the first half of the year, there were 30 smash-and-grab robberies, 187 grab and runs, 49 distraction thefts, 36 sneak thefts, and more than 40 gunpoint robberies, the JSA reports. There were 10 instances—an “unusually large number,” says the JSA—of burglars using vehicles to break into jewelry stores, and 20 cases in which burglars broke to stores from the roof or adjoining businesses.
There has been one reported industry-related homicide: Muhammad Saeed Shaikh, a gold salesman from Pakistan, was kidnapped and killed in June in Dallas when he tried to stop men from breaking into his rental car.
One growing and worrying trend: hacked emails that appear to be from longtime customers and try to con jewelry wholesalers into sending merchandise on consignment, which is then not paid for.
“It’s really difficult to deal with because you think you are speaking to your clients,” Kennedy says. “The only way you can check up on it is to call your client directly.”
Also this year, law enforcement broke up a number of gangs that prey on the industry. These gangs’ crime sprees now generate increased publicity, as surveillance video from these incidents is irresistible to TV news shows.
“There aren’t many cases that got as much attention as the female armed robber,” Kennedy says.
Once the gang has been busted, law enforcement turns to the jewelers who fence the goods.
“There is a big effort to go after fences,” Kennedy says. “They can be difficult cases to prove, but they are always part of the investigation. Once you have the criminals, you hope you can turn them and go after the companies that fence the goods.”