The Usual Suspects

The mistletoe, dreidels and holly that decorate stores between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day mark a happy, busy time as consumers shop for holiday gifts. They also mark a darker sign of the season: higher crime. The holiday season is the most dangerous and costly period for jewelers, especially careless ones, say industry and security experts. Crooks of all kinds -- armed robbers, scam artists and light-fingered employees -- are out in force to take advantage of harried and distracted merchants. "We experience more losses during the holidays than other times of year," says Ronald Harder, president of Jewelers Mutual Insurance, Neenah,Wis. But the surge in crime isn't only because crooks are more active. Store owners, managers and salespeople are often unwitting accomplices. "With so much happening in the store during the holidays, jewelers tend to be more lax about security." Reduc

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