Uncle John Wants You!

A national campaign to create hundreds of local crime-prevention networks of jewelers and police has been launched by Jewelers’ Security Alliance, in partnership with Jewelers of America and Jewelers Mutual Insurance.

Members of local networks share information on crimes, suspects, and crime prevention and work with local police to reduce crimes against jewelers. (See “Jewelers’ Security Networks,” JCK, May 2007, p. 218.) “It’s one of the best ways to stop crime before it happens,” John Kennedy, JSA president, told JCK this year. “When jewelers tell each other and police about suspicious persons and incidents, crimes can be avoided and suspects arrested.”

JA and JM have each pledged $300,000 to the new project. The JCK/Reed Exhibition companies provided seed money through a $100,000 JCK Industry Fund grant to JSA in 2006. On Labor Day, JSA launched a three-year drive to raise at least $500,000. Luxury watch brand Rolex pledged $75,000, the first JSA member to make a pledge. (JSA will recognize its partners and contributors at its 125th anniversary luncheon Jan. 12 in New York City. FBI director Robert S. Mueller will speak.)

JSA, a nonprofit association, provides crime-prevention services to 20,000-plus member firms and works closely with the FBI and law enforcement agencies. JA is a retail jewelers’ national association, with 11,000 members. Jewelers Mutual is the leading insurer for North America’s jewelry industry, with 11,000 policyholders.

Leaders of the industry campaign to create hundreds of 
local crime prevention networks include [from left, front] 
John Green, chairman, Jewelers of America; Patti Geolat
chairwoman, Jewelers Mutual Insurance; David Cornstein
chairman, Jewelers Security Alliance; [from left, back row] 
Matthew Runci, JA president; Darin Kath, JM president 
and CEO; and John Kennedy, JSA president.

The spark for this intra-industry project was David Cornstein, JSA chairman and chairman emeritus of Finlay Enterprises. “Our board began talking about networks in 2006, and David said, ‘This is so important to jewelers, we should involve JA and JM,’ ” recalls Kennedy. “It was a natural fit. David made presentations to their boards, and then we prepared a detailed proposal, which we gave them in May.”

JA and JM are providing more than money. They helped JSA develop, strategize, and review the project, says Kennedy. They’ll also help monitor it; give JSA mailing lists and state contacts; and promote networks in newsletters, letters to members and policyholders, and during JA state association meetings.

“This is an amazingly strong grassroots effort by the U.S. jewelry industry to increase its security,” says Kennedy, who notes that the project will be JSA’s main focus through 2010.

The goal is 200 networks by then. (At present, there are fewer than 15.) Size depends on locality and density of jewelers. “South Dakota may only need one statewide, while Los Angeles or New York City could support several,” suggests Kennedy. Crime is also relevant. About 30 states have ongoing criminal activity against jewelers and traveling salesmen.

Representatives of JSA, JA, and JM will constitute a management board. A full-time administrator, based at JSA’s New York headquarters, will coordinate and handle the networks’ daily business. JSA will hire four people with law enforcement experience as regional organizers to develop and work with the networks. The campaign also wants national and regional jewelry chains and jewelry manufacturers to be part of local networks. Chains’ crime prevention systems can be useful, and traveling salespeople can provide additional information.

The project officially began in September, but planning has been under way for months. JSA early this year surveyed several hundred jewelers about forming local networks. It received 102 positive replies. Now, JSA, JA, and JM together will send a letter to their thousands of members, asking them to form or join networks. In addition, JSA will send 4,200 e-mails to police and security-conscious jewelers.

Since spring, JSA’s Web site (www.jewelerssecurity.org) has had a message board where networks can warn of suspicious persons and incidents. “More are posting alerts,” notes Kennedy. “Once more networks are organized, I expect a great increase in usage.”

JSA has begun holding meetings to discuss networks and is preparing a how-to booklet and related materials on forming and running one. These will be given to JSA members and any jewelers who request them, including those who aren’t members of any of the three sponsoring organizations. “This is an industry-inclusive security project,” says Kennedy. “We’re not excluding anyone.”

Existing networks—like one in Dallas, a statewide one in Missouri, and the Northern California Security Alert System—have made “great progress” reducing crime locally, notes Kennedy, who calls the national drive to create hundreds more “a giant step forward in the fight against jewelry crime.”

JSA’s partners agree. “Security is of utmost concern to jewelers,” notes John Green, JA chairman, and president and chief executive officer of Lux, Bond & Green, West Hartford, Conn. This project could have “a significant impact on every one of our 11,000 member stores.”

Jeweler Patti Geolat, of Geolat & Associates, Dallas, and chairwoman of Jewelers Mutual’s board, for years has been in a local network she helped organize. “I’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of such a group,” she says. “This project will be a major step in reducing crimes against policyholders of Jewelers Mutual and the entire jewelry industry.”

Surprisingly, the biggest obstacle to forming local networks in past years was jewelers’ lack of interest. That’s changing. At a recent meeting Kennedy held in Greenwich, Conn., on how to form a local network, 80 jewelers attended. At a session in Dallas, some 70 jewelers showed up “on a hot Wednesday night, for something unrelated to a trade show or event,” Kennedy notes. The reason, he believes, is that “the issue of security has become so dramatic and important to jewelers.”

“We can’t put all responsibility for our security on police,” says Leo Anglo, manager of Vincent’s Jewelers, Creve Coeur, Mo., who helped form a state network in 2002. “How can we ask them to do what we won’t do for ourselves?” As he told JCK this year, “United, we’re a lot stronger than when separate and picked off by crooks one at a time.”

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