Report: Jewelry Crime Hits New Low in ’04

here were only three murders connected with the jewelry business in 2004, the lowest number in over 25 years, according to the new annual report of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. There were 11 in 2003 and 16 in 2002.

In addition, jewelry-crime losses among U.S. jewelers and traveling salespeople fell in 2004, says JSA.

“JSA is pleased by the continued decline in crime,” said JSA president John Kennedy. “However, as these statistics show, we still have a long way to go.” The report itself notes, “The jewelry industry is still very dangerous.”

Already, there are signs the trend may not continue: at press time, there were four jewelry-related fatalaties (two of whom were robbers) in 2005, Kennedy said.

The report says total crime losses suffered by U.S. jewelry firms in 2004 were $109.2 million (at cost), a 16.4 percent drop. On-premises crimes (including robbery, burglary, and theft) against jewelers totaled $76.3 million in losses, 11.4 percent less than 2003 figures.

The total number of “criminal events” was 3.9 percent less in 2004, at 1,163 reported crimes, compared with 1,210 reports in 2003. However, while robbery and theft declined, dollar losses to burglaries were 10 percent higher, and there were 18 percent more burglaries (325) reported to JSA.

The frequency of safe attacks declined significantly in 2004, says JSA. “This reduction appears to be the result of arrests by local police in California of members of two major burglary gangs and a successful effort by the FBI to neutralize the nationally active high-tech burglary gang known as the ‘YACS,'” says the JSA report.

The number of off-premise crimes against traveling salespeople decreased 8.2 percent (to 179). In 2003, nationwide off-premises attacks occurred at a rate of 16.3 per month, in 2004 attacks occurred at a rate of 14.9 per month, it adds. In 23 percent of the off-premises robberies reported to JSA in 2004, a gun or knife was displayed. In 17 percent, the victim was physically assaulted, usually in response to some level of resistance. Meanwhile, “unattended losses are still occurring with great frequency, and account for about 23 percent of the total number of off-premises attacks.”

The JSA report notes that since Sept. 11, 2001, there haven’t been any jewelry-related attacks reported to JSA inside a U.S. airport terminal. However, two losses did occur since then onboard planes, one when a passenger stole from a jeweler’s underseat bag while he slept, and the other when a jeweler forgot to take his line with him when getting off a plane.