Security effort stresses cooperation between retailers and vendors

There’s a grassroots effort to combat crime in the jewelry industry by encouraging cooperation between retail jewelers and traveling salespersons.

The effort began during the Jewelers Executive Conference, held April 1 and 2 in Overland Park, Kan., when a group of about 20 retailers, vendors, and other industry executives (including executives from Jewelers Mutual and Federated Insurance) met at a hastily called meeting. The result was the creation of a checklist of basic measures for retailers and vendors to follow in order to reduce the ability of criminals to prey on traveling salespersons. (The checklist appears at the end of this story.)

Leo Anglo, manager of Vincent’s Jewelers, Creve Coeur, Mo., organized the meeting and created the checklist after consulting the insurance companies, Jewelers’ Security Alliance, and other organizations.

“Our industry is very splintered,” Anglo said at the meeting. “This effort has to transcend all competition.”

Anglo noted that the kinds of criminals who prey on traveling salespersons are violent. Salesmen, in addition to the possible loss of life, often suffer terrible injuries during these thefts.

Ron Harder, president of Jewelers Mutual, offered his public support at the meeting. “We have to set an example,” he said. “We have to be leaders. We have to set the seed.”

Anglo told JCK on Thursday that Jewelers Mutual will be duplicating the checklist on cards to be distributed to their clients.

John Kennedy, president of Jewelers’ Security Alliance, told JCK Thursday that JSA has assisted Anglo in the effort by providing printed material and that JSA supports it.

“What he is really looking to do is to have retailers be more considerate of the security of vendors and that vendors and retailers have a closer appreciation of each other’s security needs,” said Kennedy, who has known Anglo for several years and has worked with him on other security issues.

“If we can do something to promote it, we’ll promote it,” he added. “It’s a good idea.”

Kennedy also lauded Anglo for soliciting the advice of JSA, the insurance industries, and other professions. “I think that he proceeded in a prudent way,” Kennedy said.

Anglo told JCK on Thursday that following the list will not prevent all crime but will make it more difficult for criminals to commit acts against traveling salesmen. A 10 percent to 15 percent reduction in these kinds of violent crimes would be a success.

“We have to force each other to be accountable to make sure we have to abide by these standards,” Anglo said. “We have to be the conscience for everybody in our industry.”

Anglo is looking for ways to circulate the checklist nationally.

The list of recommended security measures are:

The Retailer:

* Know what vendor is coming and when.

* If you are in a downtown area with limited parking, ask your vendors to pull in front and drop the line off, and reverse the procedure when leaving.

* Always watch your vendors coming and leaving your parking lot. (It is better to watch from a distance than walk to the car; this way you can see the entire area and be free to call police if needed. If you’re with the vendor at the car, you’ll be another victim.)

* Obtain vendor cell phone numbers, so you can contact them if you see something suspicious.

* If you have a private area, review all lines in that back area or at least out of sight.

* Never allow diamond dealers to take out and open all their wallets in plain view.

* Watch out for any “customers” that seem more interested in seeing what a vendor is doing than what they are looking at with you.

* Watch for anyone making cell phone calls from inside or immediately outside your store.

* Watch for any suspicious activities in the parking area around the store or vendor’s car. Allow vendors to leave their line in the store as needed. (Check for any insurance issues.)

The Vendor:

* Request that your customer watch you when arriving and leaving.

* Call your customer as you are pulling up, so they can watch you from your car into the store. If you are in a downtown area with limited parking, pull in front and drop the line off, and do the reverse when leaving.

* Always use evasive driving techniques to minimize the chance of being followed, especially when leaving and arriving at a store.

* Leave your cell phone number with your customer, so when you leave you can be contacted if there are any security issues.

* If possible, never show your line in plain view; don’t be afraid to ask if someone in the store is a regular customer or not.

* Don’t sit in your car in front of a store or a parking lot for an extended period of time; this makes it easier to get spotted.

* Use retailers to watch your line while you go for a meal or lock up overnight.

* Go past the normal highway exit and loop back around.

* Use a cloverleaf intersection to loop around two times; this style of intersection allows an open view in all directions, so you can determine if you’re being followed.