FBI Gets More Funding To ‘Disrupt’ Jewelry Theft Gangs

The jewelry industry proposal for more FBI help to fight jewelry crimes, especially theft gangs that attack traveling salespeople, was approved by Congress on Dec. 21, 2000, and signed by President Clinton.

Passage capped a year of lobbying by the industrywide Security Coalition, led by the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. The year saw a significant rise in Congress’s awareness of the problem and a strong increase in enforcement by the FBI. The 2000 lobbying effort “has been one of the most significant projects in JSA’s 117-year history,” says JSA president John Kennedy.

The final version of the House and Senate bills defines South American theft gangs that prey on traveling salespeople as “an organized criminal enterprise.” The designation gives the problem a higher priority in enforcement. The bill directs the FBI to use “multi-agency task forces” and “appropriate resources” from its $500 million fund to fight organized crime to “disrupt” the robbery gangs and their activities in the United States.

Congress has “spoken very clearly that they view this issue as an important one deserving serious attention by the FBI,” says Kennedy. Key to JSA’s lobbying efforts, he added, was the “expert and energetic work” by JSA’s law firm Thelen, Reid & Priest, whose Washington lobbying arm planned the campaign.

The successful lobbying is a beginning, not an end, he adds. “We’re not stopping. We’ll continue lobbying [for the 2002 budget] and monitoring the Bureau’s progress against the gangs. We are going keep the fight going.”