Dollar losses, crimes against jewelry salespeople, and jewelry-related homicides all dropped during 2006, sometimes hitting levels not seen in twenty years, the Jewelers Security Alliance reported.
Dollar losses for all crime categories in 2006 were $105.8 million, down 5.1 percent from 2005, said John J. Kennedy, JSA president. The number of off-premises crimes, principally against traveling salespersons, decreased from 181 to 155, the fewest since the 1980s.
Homicides declined from nine in 2005 to seven in 2006—and Kennedy notes there have been no jewelry-related homicides in the last twelve months.
“That’s really rare,” he said. “It’s a considerable reduction from what it used to be. Back in the bad old 90s, you would have 15 to 30 in a year. The year I started [at JSA], there were 37.”
Kennedy attributes the good news to increased law enforcement attention to the jewelry industry, as well as greater information sharing within the industry and with law enforcement.
“All the increased police attention and prosecutions are scaring away the criminals from the jewelry industry,” he said. “The criminals see jewelry as getting too hot so they are moving to other areas.”
He adds, “We are only beginning to see the positive results of this cooperation. We expect to see much more positive results in the next year.”
Despite all these good trends, the amount of “criminal events” went up, mostly because of a big jump in grab-and-run thefts, which went from 175 in 2005 to 419 in 2006, an increase of 146%. There were also 171 three-minute burglaries, which represented 66% of all burglary losses.
Kennedy notes that grab-and-run crimes and three minute burglaries require the least skilled criminals, and is evidence of a greater trend toward lower-skilled crimes against the jewelry industry.
Robberies in jewelry stores were steady, Kennedy said, “though the long-term trend is down.”