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New York, NY—“Smash and grab” robberies are on the rise at prestige jewelers. Is it simply because higher-ticket merchandise makes a more appealing target for criminals?

The Centurion spoke with the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) president John Kennedy, who, between speaking about loss prevention at numerous trade shows and events this year, shared some insight and savvy advice for better jewelers.

“[In these robberies] large quantities of high-end watches and diamonds are taken,” said Kennedy, sharing the breakdown of the typical smash and grab: three or more young masked males (generally gang members) enter a store, often with guns. They proceed to smash the front and top of high-end showcases with hammers, mallets, or their guns. They take whatever product they can get quickly and go.

“They are in and out in less than a minute, and often leave with product totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Kennedy said. But he reinforces what he says to the industry repeatedly: JSA recommends jewelers cooperate and not resist these criminals. They will not hesitate to use force—even deadly force—if they encounter resistance by a jeweler.

Smash-and-grab is a difficult crime to combat, according to Kennedy. He offers these recommendations to try to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim:

  1. Use burglary-resistant glass on the top and sides in showcases for high-end product. On occasion, some robbers have left, or left early when they were unable to smash the showcases. “JSA has never seen retaliation by the criminals for merely having burglary resistant glass,” says Kennedy. Some criminals will take the time to order the employees to open the showcases, however.
  2. Consider using off-duty police as security personnel. Private security guards (non-police) provide fewer deterrents and can increase the risk of a violent confrontation.
  3. Not concentrating high-end product in the same areas of the store (or showcase) can reduce [the amount of] any eventual loss
  4. Locked doors with buzzers for admission
  5. Visible working cameras, particularly at eye level

Jewelers need to stay ever vigilant in the prevention of crime. According to JSA’s annual crime report (for 2011, published in 2012): the total dollar losses from crimes against US jewelry firms increased from $80.8 million in 2010 to $85.1 million in 2011.

JSA’s website offers some additional in-store showcase security tips:

Showcase keys need to be safeguarded carefully. All keys should be accounted for at the end of each business day.
Keys should not be permitted to leave the premises.
Generic keys that fit all showcases of the same showcase model should be changed so that a key from a showcase in another store can’t fit your showcases.
If an employee is fired or leaves in a case involving internal theft, and keys are not returned, a jeweler must consider changing the showcase locks.

Other tips for the security of jewelers at home can be found on the JSA website,

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