Austin, TX—An employee of Korman Fine Jewelry was shot during an armed robbery shortly after the store resumed business following closure for the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, at 5:00 p.m. on May 7, three suspects entered the store. Shots were fired, resulting in the employee being shot and seriously wounded. Local news reports initially said the employee’s injuries were potentially life-threatening; thankfully by the next day his condition was reported as stable.
A rapid and heavy police response resulted in two of at least three suspects being arrested. At least one, and possibly more, suspects remain at large. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Austin Police at (512) 974-5092.
Despite the fact that a relatively small number of jewelry stores have been open, JSA is seeing a significant level of violent jewelry crime and anticipates that as more stores and states re-open, criminals who were idled during the shutdowns are likely to cause an explosion of crime.
This is a time for jewelers to be extremely vigilant about security as well as health and safety. Below are JSA’s security recommendations for store re-openings:
1. Following reopening jewelers should keep the door locked and have an employee or security guard admit a very small number of people at a time. The security guard or employee at the door can also act as a greeter. A buzzer system may be very helpful, and all customers admitted need to be wearing a mask. In mall locations and locations without a locked door, an employee or security guard should control the entranceway.
2. If a jeweler wishes to have a person remove a mask, it needs to be while the person is outside the store. However, there are limitations: various jurisdictions require masks to be worn, and the person cant be asked to remove a mask before any other nearby people are moved away.
3. Criminals trying to conceal their identity ordinarily will use more than a surgical mask, and will use hats, hoodies and sunglasses in addition to a mask. Some people at the door may be wearing scarves, bandanas or rolled tee shirts rather than masks. If a jeweler feels someone is trying to conceal their identity, or is not sufficiently protected without a mask, the person shouldnt be admitted to the locked store at all, whether they remove the mask or scarf outside or not.
4. Customers should not be asked to remove a mask inside the store, putting the health of the jeweler, employees and customers at risk, or possibly provoking a criminal to become violent.
5. Social distancing needs to be maintained inside the store for both employees and customers.
6. The installation of a camera focusing to the outside of the store is very useful as a security tool, and will also be helpful in admitting customers to a store.
7. If a jeweler has furloughed or permanently laid off employees, the issue of store and showcase keys, alarm codes and safe combinations becomes a security question if the keys and information are in the possession of the former employees. The jeweler may need to make changes to prevent any future misuse.
8. Jewelers may wish to shorten or adjust their store hours, especially so they are not the only open business in a given neighborhood.
9. If you engage in curbside pickup:
10. You may need to keep a quantity of various COVID-19 supplies in the store: extra gloves and masks for employees and customers, hand sanitizer, disinfectant for wiping showcases and door handles, and a jewelry-friendly disinfecting product and cloth for wiping jewelry and watches before and after presentations.
11. While there are a small number of new security issues presented by Covid-19, basic security principles long promoted by Jewelers Security Alliance will now be more important than ever. In these troubled times jewelers need to follow such time-proven crime prevention procedures, even as they operate with a reduced staff:
Jewelers Security Alliance offers these initial security recommendations at this unprecedented time, and will be constantly re-evaluating them as the patterns of crime emerge and store re-openings increase. Do not let these difficult financial times cause you to lower your guard regarding security. If you have questions or further concerns, please contact Jewelers Security Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit JSA's website.