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Distraction Thefts Are On The Rise October 26, 2020 (0 comments)


New York, NY—As business has returned to jewelers following the initial pandemic lockdowns last spring, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance has been warning that criminals also are back in business. Earlier this month, JSA alerted jewelers about an uptick in burglaries; last week JSA also warned jewelers that distraction thefts are on the rise. Image: JSA says a suspect in Atlantic City, NJ slipped a tray of jewelry into one of the plastic bags on the counter.

Related: As Jewelers’ Business Comes Back Nationwide, Burglars Are Back Too, Says JSA

In Arkansas, a couple with a small child asked to see multiple diamond rings; the male put several items into the female’s purse. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, a couple carrying a large shopping bag placed it on the counter next to the merchandise she wanted to see. The male positioned himself behind the bag and reached into an open showcase—all within three minutes. And not far away in Atlantic City, NJ, a male suspect put multiple plastic bags on the counter and walked around the store. Seeing a tray of jewelry left out, he took the bags, repositioned himself, slid it into one of the bags, and left.

Related: Note To Jewelers: Don’t Leave The Keys Out!

JSA offers five tips to prevent distraction thefts:

  1. Keep showcases locked and merchandise put away except when actually taking out or returning an item.
  2. Beware of packages, coats and handbags left on a counter that can block the view of a sales associate.
  3. Customers wandering aimlessly around a store may be looking for unlocked showcases or product left out.
  4. Show only one item at a time.
  5. Thieves sometimes use small children as part of their technique: to distract and to try to show they aren’t a risk

Beware of shopping bags or large totes on the counter. A suspect in Philadelphia positioned himself carefully behind this bag so the associate couldn't see his movements. Image: JSA

In other crime news, four suspects in Seattle, WA forced their way into an appointment-only store at closing time and held a gun in the face of a female sales associate. They took a quantity of high-end antique rings and a MacBook pro before fleeing in a 2005 Audi A6, likely stolen.

In Charlotte, NC, a suspect ostensibly shopping for a watch asked questions about a particular high-end brand. He then asked to try one on and fled from the store wearing it.

Anyone with information about any of these crimes is asked to contact JSA at (212) 687-0328 or

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