The jewelry trade’s efforts to get federal assistance to combat on-the-road jewelry thefts are paying off. However, more financial support is needed if the industry’s efforts are to continue, says John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. JSA formed the industry coalition that is seeking federal help to fight the gangs.
“Progress is being made in getting the FBI to give more resources and attention to fighting the South American theft gangs that have been devastating the jewelry industry,” Kennedy said in a summer report to coalition members.
That progress includes:
The addition of three more FBI personnel to the five already on the FBI/Los Angeles Police Department task force fighting the South American theft gangs in California. The task force has made “hundreds of arrests” in the past year, said Kennedy in his July 30 report. There are also two full-time FBI agents working on the problem in Chicago, and JSA has asked the FBI to start a new task force in Atlanta to fight rising thefts in the Southeast.
The House Appropriations Committee used language requested by JSA in its report on the FBI’s annual budget. That language directs the FBI to make the issue of on-the-road jewelry thefts a priority: The congressional committee “encourages the FBI to continue to devote the necessary resources to disrupting these criminal enterprises.”
It is “significant and unusual for the Congress to take such a focused interest in such a specific area,” noted Kennedy. However, he cautioned coalition members, “Despite signs that things are moving in the right direction, we must keep the pressure on. There is no ‘promised land’ regarding this problem, and the theft gangs aren’t going to disappear.”
Lobbying in Washington, he added, is “very expensive.” The coalition has contracted with a Washington law firm to represent and lobby for the group in the nation’s capital. Pledges totaling $197,000 have been made over the past two years (through June 30), with $161,000 of those pledges paid. That amount was sufficient to take the coalition’s efforts in Washington through September 2001, the end of this session of Congress.
“We need to do more fundraising and get additional support for next years efforts,” said Kennedy. “But the lobbying efforts are well worth the money. We had expected it would take longer than it has to get results from our lobbying efforts.”