Midwest Jewelers Hit by String of Smash-and-Grabs

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) is warning Midwest jewelers about a string of smash-and-grabs that have happened in the last month in Illinois and Michigan.

All in all, there have been six robberies in the area in about a month. One store, on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, was unlucky enough to be hit twice.

JSA president John Kennedy can’t say for sure if the robberies are the work of the same gang, but notes that having six incidents in the last month occur in the same relative area is definitely unusual.

“There is a concentration in terms of geography and they are similar in M.O.,” he says. “But it would be overstepping to say they are part of the same gang.”

In many of these instances, “the robbers are in and out really quick,” he says. “They have cased the store beforehand. They are after high-end watches and loose diamonds. They know exactly where they are in the store and go straight to that showcase and take it.”

He recommends jewelers take the following precautions:

– Equip your showcases with burglary-resistant, laminated glass and special frames. Special showcases can often withstand blows from a hammer. In addition, sometimes the burglars cut themselves with this kind of showcase, leaving behind DNA evidence.

– Install buzzers on the door.

– Spread high-end watch and diamond merchandise among several showcases, rather than concentrating it in one or two.

– Use eye-level surveillance cameras. Often ceiling-level cameras provide useless evidence.

– Keep a logbook of suspicious incidents.

– Share information with local jewelers and the police.

Kennedy also recommends that jewelers do not try to stop or chase after the robbers.

“They have a very heavy object and may have a gun,” he says. “We regularly see people get hurt when they resist. You don’t want that. This is what you have insurance for.”

Here is a list of the recent robberies, including photos of suspects:

Oct. 6, Grand Rapids, Mich., 8:39 p.m.

Two suspects entered a retail jeweler with small hammers and went to the diamond case. They smashed the top of the case and snatched some loose stones. They escaped in a white vehicle. Both are pictured below.

grand rapids robbery

Grand Rapids Mich robbery

Oct. 13, Chicago, 10:59 a.m.

Two suspects smashed a case in a Magnificent Mile store and escaped with product.  

Oct. 25, Portage, Mich., 8:23 p.m.

This robbery involved four suspects, one of whom is pictured below. One suspect held the door while the other three went to the back of the store. Two of them used hammers to smash showcases, while a third, possibly female, stuffed loose diamonds in a bag.


Nov. 3, Chicago, 11:40 a.m.

Three hoodie-wearing suspects robbed the same Magnificent Mile store that was hit on Oct. 6. They stole some high-end watches and escaped down three sets of elevators. Suspects are pictured below and at the top of this article.


Nov. 9, Madison Heights, Mich., 8:19 p.m.

Four suspects propped open the door of a retail jeweler with a brick. Two went to the back of the store and smashed a diamond showcase with hammers, leaving with diamond jewelry.


Nov. 13, Novi, Mich., 8:30 p.m.

Three suspects came into a retail jewelry store and smashed two showcases, grabbing a handful of loose diamonds and putting them in a bag. One of the suspects is pictured below.

Novi Michigan robbery

(Images courtesy of Jewelers’ Security Alliance)


JCK News Director