Jewelry Crime by the Numbers

Jewelers’ losses to crime increased again in 2003, even though on-site criminal incidents dropped slightly and law enforcement has been more aggressive in collaring jewelry criminals, say new reports by Jewelers’ Security Alliance and Jewelers Mutual Insurance.

On the plus side, “off-premises” losses—such as robberies of traveling retailers, salespeople, or trunk-show operators—declined for the fifth straight year, and violence in jewelry store robberies is down sharply since the start of the decade.

Rising losses. Total dollar losses (in wholesale, not retail terms) in 2003 from reported crimes against jewelry locations (stores, manufacturers, wholesalers) amounted to $88.3 million. That’s 13.6% more than in 2002 and 36% over 2000 figures, says JSA’s just-released annual crime report. Jewelers Mutual, the largest U.S. insurer of jewelers and jewelry, reports similar findings. While its policyholders have reduced the frequency of losses thanks to their “more stringent security efforts,” notes Ron Harder, JM president and chief executive officer, there has been “an increase in severity of losses. The average claim has increased more than 540% in the last five years.”

Industry officials are at a loss to explain why on-site losses are rising: Law enforcement is more aggressive in hunting jewelry crooks, and jewelers are more security conscious than ever, often sharing crime tips and reports with each other by phone, fax, and e-mail. Reasons offered include inflation, rising jewelry prices, and better reporting of crimes to JSA. (The JSA Web site, www.jewelerssecurity.org, now gets 11,000 hits a month, triple last year’s figure.) Some manufacturers and retailers, though, suggest it indicates more jewelers are keeping more memo jewelry and inventory on hand to make more sales.

Fewer crimes. Almost half of on-premises losses—$42.8 million—were due to robberies, even though they account for only one in five on-site crimes. Burglaries, almost one-fifth of on-site crimes, claimed $21 million, with thefts—60% of on-site jewelry crimes—accounting for $24 million in losses.

During 2003, though, the number of reported crimes dropped 3%, to 1,347 (almost 40% of them robberies and burglaries). More than 350 people were arrested during the year for crimes against the industry, says JSA, also part of a rising trend. Law enforcement officials, especially federal ones, have become more aggressive in pursuing jewelry-related crimes, says John Kennedy, JSA’s president and chief executive officer. The post-Sept. 11 focus on terrorism has increased their attention to individuals who commit crimes against the jewelry industry, not lessened it, he says. Even so, adds Harder, “jewelers need to continue to follow proper safety and security procedures, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

One of the most encouraging statistics in JSA’s new report is the fact that the use of violence and guns in jewelry store robberies is down sharply since the start of the decade, and there were fewer homicides during store robberies in 2003. That indicates, says Kennedy, that jewelers are “acting more carefully, sensibly, and responsibly” in high-pressure robbery situations and not reacting in ways that can cause death to themselves or others in the store.

On-Premises Jewelry Crimes
(percentage of total)

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Robbery 19% 18% 19% 22%
Theft 61% 61% 60% 62%
Burglary 20% 21% 18% 14%

On-Premises Losses
(in millions of wholesale dollars)

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Robbery $42.4 $35.9 $29.3 $30.8
Theft $24.1 $21.0 $27.5 $21.2
Burglary $21.4 $20.8 $14.4 $12.8
Total $88.3 $77.7 $71.2 $64.8

On-Premises Jewelry Crimes

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
1,347 1,390 1,269 1,020

Percentage of Robberies Involving Violence or Guns

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Violence 31% 34% 35% 45%
Gun Use 67% 69% 62% 72%

Homicides During Jewelry Store Robberies

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Criminal 2 4 7 4
Retailer/Relative 7 11 3 2
Trav. Salesperson 0 0 1 1
Designer 0 1 1 0
Police Officer 0 0 0 0
Security Guard 2 0 1 0
Total 11 16 13 9

Percentage of Robberies Involving Violence or Guns

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Violence 31% 34% 35% 45%
Gun Use 67% 69% 62% 72%

Percentage of B3M Burglaries (under 3 minutes)

2003 2002 2001
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2001-2003
67% 76% 75%

Burglars’ Most Frequent Points of Entry

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Front Door 25% 45% 40% 42%
Window 22% 36% 24% 18%
Wall 3% 3% 19% 7%
Security Gate 6% 2% 3% 4%
Roof 3% 8% 5% 2%

Theft Losses
(average, in thousands)

2003 2002 2001
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2001-2003
Distraction $50 $49 $117
Grab & Run $26 $16 $22
Check Fraud $33 $36 $82
Internal Theft $84 $44 $87
Sneak Theft $18 $13 $15
Shipping Loss $11 $7 $12
Diamond Switch $10 $8 $22

Total Dollar Losses
(millions of wholesale dollars)

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
On-premises $88.3 $77.7 $71.2 $64.8
Off-premises $44.5 $48.3 $51.5 $53.1
Total $132.8 $126.0 $122.7 $117.9

Off-Premises Losses
(in millions of wholesale dollars)

2003 2002 2001 2000
Source: Jewelers’ Security Alliance Annual Crime Reports 2000-2003
Robbery $31.6 $40.0 $32.9 $27.4
Theft $9.0 $8.1 $16.9 $24.4
Burglary $3.8 $246k $1.7 $1.3
Total $44.4 $48.3 $51.5 $53.1