Crime Watch

SECURITY CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON CRIME REDUCTION

More than 100 jewelry retailers and manufacturers, insurers and law enforcement authorities put their heads together at the recent Jewel and Gem Conference to discuss ways to reduce crime.

The three-day conference was sponsored by Zale Corp., Sterling Inc., the Jewelers’ Security Alliance and the Gemological Institute of America. “I’ve been in retail my entire career and I’m still amazed at the cooperation within our industry to fight crime,” says Robert DiNicola, chairman and chief executive officer of Zale Corp. “There’s strength in numbers, and we’re certainly stronger when our efforts are unified.”

The conference featured seminars in how to track and identify stolen jewelry, recognize real and fake gems and discern individual gem characteristics. Included were demonstrations of new technologies that link retailers with law enforcement.

How serious is the problem? JSA President John Kennedy and Vice President Robert Frank said that while the number of robberies and burglaries committed against jewelers decreased nearly 22% in 1995, the value of losses increased about 29%.

“The majority of crimes against retail jewelers are not committed by random individuals, but by roving, organized gangs that prey on jewelry stores and will not hesitate to use violence to gain their treasure,” says Rich Sylvest, supervisory special agent of the FBI’s Interstate Theft Unit. “These criminals will continually perpetrate offenses until they are stopped, which we’ve all teamed up to do.”

“We all have one mission: to identify and prosecute the criminals that victimize the jewelry industry, its employees and customers,” says George Slicho, vice president of loss prevention at Zale Corp. “Our efforts have resulted in a safer place in which the industry conducts business and customers shop.”