CounterPoint

You Can’t Be Too Security-Conscious

Reports of sample line losses on the road or at a trade show always leave you with a sinking feeling. In the past eight months two friends lost sample lines, one on the road, the other at the JCK Show in Orlando. A third case occurred last fall in California and involved a diamond jewelry salesperson, in a scene right out of an action movie. A fourth scenario involved a buyer returning from the Las Vegas JCK Show last year. Each situation serves as a reminder to be security-conscious. The crooks are resourceful, persistent, and patient. We, on the other hand, continue to think it can’t or won’t happen to us.

  • Case 1: The clever thieves. Two thieves followed a jewelry salesperson from the Orlando airport to his hotel. While the passenger was paying the cabby, a car pulled up alongside of the cab. One of the felons got out of the car and snatched the sample line as the cabby hit the trunk-release button. The scene took place in less than 30 seconds.

  • Case 2: The classic thieves. This too was a team effort. The thieves staked out a Connecticut jewelry store, watching for a ripe target to arrive. When the salesperson left, the thieves followed, waiting for him to make a mistake and provide an opportunity to strike. Their chance came when he stopped on the Connecticut Turnpike to use the restroom, leaving the sample line in the back seat. While walking to the facility, he heard breaking glass. He turned to see the felon take his line from the backseat, jump into the waiting car, and speed off.

  • Case 3: The movie script. A sales representative leaving a California jewelry store had a strange feeling she was being followed. She hurried to her car. No sooner had she locked the doors than two guys were banging on the windows with guns. As she pulled out she saw one of the perpetrators talking on a cell phone. She raced toward an exit of the parking lot and saw another car speeding toward the same exit, trying to cut her off. But she got there first and sped toward the freeway.
    The criminals continued in hot pursuit. They followed her onto the freeway, trying to bracket her vehicle. Her weaving in and out caught the attention of a California highway patrolman, who pulled her over. The perpetrators sped away.

  • Case 4: The unsuspecting buyer. At the Las Vegas JCK Show last year, thieves followed a buyer to her room at the Desert Inn. When she left the room for dinner, the thieves broke into her room, thinking there might be some goods to steal. Fortunately, there were none.

Each situation teaches important lessons. First, it can happen to you. Buyer or seller, it makes no difference. We must look out for each other. If you see a buyer leaving a show with a badge on, remind him it’s a security risk. Retailers, assist sales representatives who call on you by allowing them to leave their line in your store while they get their vehicle. Watch them as they leave, and if you suspect they’re being followed, notify the police.

And salespeople, remember to keep that line with you at all times or safely secured in a fortified trunk. If you’re carrying a line to a trade show, go directly to the show site and check your line into the vault immediately or make arrangements to be met by the security people from the show when your flight arrives. It’s cheap peace of mind. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.