A Los Angeles detective, an FBI agent, and executives from Sterling Jewelers were all honored by Jewelers’ Security Alliance at its annual luncheon, held at the Harmonie Club in New York City on Jan. 11.
LAPD detective Carol Mosher and FBI special agent Frank Aimaro received the organization’s James B. White Award to Law Enforcement for their work in stopping jewelry crime gangs.
“I read the all the JSA bulletins and couldn’t agree more with their recommendations,” Aimaro said, in accepting the award. “I think we have made L.A. a safer place for the jewelry industry.”
Kevin Valentine, vice president, internal audit and risk management for Sterling Jewelers, and Mark Neapolitan, director of loss prevention for Sterling, both received the organization’s Industry Service award for their work safeguarding the retail chain.
In a speech, JSA vice president Scott Guginsky, a retired New York City police officer, took the group “behind the scenes” to show how it works with law enforcement to stop criminals.
For instance, last year, JSA noticed a pattern of home invasions, which involved the robbers putting GPS trackers on jewelers’ cars to find out where they lived.
“We are a repository for information, and we can put the cases together, and we can help law enforcement,” he said. “After the last hit, the agents started working together, not just waiting for the next crime.” Eventually, the gang was caught. “If it wasn’t for those efforts, that group might still be roaming around, thinking about kidnapping.”
He also advised attendees to put a greater emphasis on security.
“If everyone would just put their jewelry away at night, we would have a lot less crime,” Guginsky said.
He also said that jewelers should be on the lookout for telltale signs that someone is planning to rob a store, such as a person waiting outside, talking on a cell phone in a car, or walking in with sunglasses and talking on his phone.
“FBI agents, police officers constantly attend classes on how to shoot, they have shot hundreds of rounds,” he said. “When people take out guns in a jewelry store, there is cross fire, there are innocent people there. If a jeweler shoots someone in the back or hits a customer, it’s not the robber who goes to jail, it’s the jeweler.”
JSA president John Kennedy opened the meeting with a moment of silence for those killed by jewelry crime in the last year, as well as for former board member Mort Weisenfeld, who died in September.