Jewelry industry homicides fell 72% in 2004, says JSA

Murders connected with jewelry-business robberies decreased 72% in 2004 to three (two retailers, one criminal), the lowest number in over 25 years, says the new annual report of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. There were 11 in 2003 and 16 in 2002.

In addition, jewelry-crime losses of U.S. jewelers and traveling salespeople fell in 2004, says JSA.

“JSA is pleased by the continued decline in crime against the jewelry industry and the growing cooperation of law enforcement,” said John Kennedy, JSA president. “However, as these statistics show, we still have a long way to go.” The report itself notes, “The jewelry industry is still very dangerous.”

The report says total crime losses suffered by U.S. jewelry firms in 2004 and recorded by JSA were $109.2 million (at cost), a 16.4% drop. All on-premises crimes (including robbery, burglary, or theft) against jewelers, primarily retailers, totaled $76.3 million in losses, 11.4% less than 2003.

The total number of “criminal events” was 3.9% less in 2004, at 1,163 reported crimes, compared to 1,210 reports in 2003. However, while robbery and theft declined, dollar losses to burglaries were 10% higher, and there were 18% more burglaries (325) reported to JSA.

The frequency of safe attacks declined significantly in 2004, says JSA. “This reduction appears to be the result of arrests by local police in California of members of two major burglary gangs and a successful effort by the FBI to neutralize the nationally active high-tech burglary gang known as the “YACS,” says the JSA report.

It also noted that since March 2004, JSA received hundreds of reports of an attempted scam regarding callers using telephone-company hearing-impaired-assisted caller services, who asked that jewelry, purchased with stolen-credit-card information be shipped to Africa, in most instances Nigeria.

The number of off-premise crimes against traveling salespeople decreased 8.2% (to 179). In 2003, nationwide off-premises attacks occurred at a rate of 16.3 per month, in 2004 attacks occurred at a rate of 14.9 per month, it adds. In 23% of the off-premises robberies reported to JSA in 2004, a gun or knife was displayed. In 17%, the victim was physically assaulted, usually in response to some level of resistance. Meanwhile, “unattended losses are still occurring with great frequency, and account for about 23% of the total number of off-premises attacks.”

The JSA report notes that since Sept. 11, 2001, there haven’t been any jewelry-related attacks reported to JSA inside a U.S. airport terminal. However, two losses did occur since then onboard planes, one when a passenger stole from a jeweler’s underseat bag while he slept, and the other when a jeweler forgot to take his line with him when getting off a plane.

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance is a nonprofit trade association providing crime-prevention information and services to the jewelry industry. JSA, founded in 1883, has over 20,000 members and works closely with the FBI and law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States.