An employee of Philadelphia jewelry store was abducted, beaten, and robbed by three masked men over the weekend, and police are seeking information about the crime.
The 53-year-old woman was abducted from a parking garage off Jewelers’ Row in the Center City district at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday April 4, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The woman was bound, beaten, and shot with a taser seven times as assailants demanded the store’s keys and safe’s pass code, neither of which she had, before being dumped in a cemetery. They then picked her back up, stole her credit card and PIN and made several ATM withdrawals before dropping her in the cemetery again.
She was found by a passing motorist and taken to a local hospital, where she is in stable condition.
Police have released surveillance footage of the vehicle from the parking garage where the victim was abducted. It is an older-model burgundy Ford Econoline van with white graffiti on the side and back.
John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, says that jewelers can rest assured that violent crimes are rare, though there is little advice he can offer, other than to stay vigilant and, should something happen, to cooperate.
“You always have to be vigilant when you’re a jeweler,” he says. “You’re not safe just by getting into the car safely. Many jewelers know the job is dangerous, but they equate the danger with being in the store, they don’t equate it with being off the premises.”
Kennedy recommends some tips for staying vigilant when leaving the store, but recognizes they aren’t always able to be followed. Employees should try to leave the store together, or at least watch each other from the store until safely in their cars. He also recommends staying cognizant of any cars that stay parked near near the store for long periods. (The van in question entered the parking garage some three hours before the woman was abducted.) “Video cameras trained outside are important,” he says, though he concedes that in a place as busy as Jewelers’ Row, suspicious behavior is not easily spotted.
One small assurance: In 2013 there were 12 kidnappings of jewelers, and in 2014 there were just two.
“We don’t see too many people being physically beaten up,” he says. “This was unusually brutal. It’s not that common.”