It’s hardly a surprise, especially with all the business going on in the last minute shopping rush, but December is the most active month for jewelers to be targeted by thieves (14.7 percent of total robberies). Just as the trade slows down in January, so do the number of robberies in the month, which accounted for just 5.8 percent of the total number of incidents last year.
While robberies take place every day of the week (no rest for the wicked), Tuesdays and Wednesdays were the most usual days for crimes to occur. Sunday, when many jewelry businesses are not open for business, was the least likely day for an incident to occur.
For those with an eye on the clock, it turns out that – for whatever reason – thieves like to get their jobs over and done with before breaking for lunch. The majority of incidents took place between 10 am and 12 noon. The second most popular time for crime was between 1pm and 3pm, though incidents took place at all times of the day.
Unfortunately, incidents involving violence were up over 2009. Last year, 41 percent of robberies were accompanied by violence, compared to 34.8 percent in 2009. Robberies involving a gun were, however, down over 2009. Last year 67 percent of incidents involved a gun compared to 73.6 percent the previous year.
Sadly, the number of deaths connected to robberies also rose in 2010. Four jewelers were killed during the year. In addition, on December 26 in Woburn, Massachusetts, while responding to the scene of an armed robbery, a police officer exchanged shots with a jewelry criminal. Both died from wounds received during the exchange.
Also in 2010, six non-fatal incidents, in which someone was shot but not fatally, took place, along with 15 other incidents in which shots were fired but no one was hit. (In 2009, 19 non-fatal injuries were reported along with 10 occasions in which shots were fired but no injuries resulted.
Three-Minute Burglaries (B3M)
JSA reported that of 312 burglaries* reported in 2010, 221 were what it terms “Three Minute Burglaries (B3M). These incidents, so called because that is the approximate amount of time it take to carry out the crime, are usually carried out in the middle of the night by attacking a glass front door or window and then smashing display cases and stealing out-of-safe merchandise.
Retailers take note, JSA stresses that B3M occur only when jewelry is not secured and out of sight overnight.
The organization notes that the average B3M results in a loss of approximately $38,000 worth of jewelry plus property damage.
*JSA defines a burglary as entering a premises after closing with the intent of committing a crime.
Hitting The Weak Points
Although it is often not possible to discern where burglars gained entry to a building, JSA believes that 31 percent of all burglars in 2010 entered the same way that regular customers do, through the front door. With 24 percent of burglars entering through the window, jewelers would do well to shore up these weak points.
JSA also said that in the case of high-tech burglaries that involve a safe or vault attack, entry is often gained by cutting a hole in the roof or an adjacent unprotected wall, ceiling or floor after an alarm system has somehow been compromised.
Burglaries conducted via the roof are especially tricky, with the majority of these types of occurrences resulting in large losses. At times, alarm systems were interfered with before they could send a signal. In other cases, when a signal was sent out, police units were unable to detect any obvious sign of a break in and unable to conduct an internal search, left the scene while the burglars were possibly inside the building, still on the roof or simply nearby.
Proving that you can never be too careful about checking the premises before locking up, the organization received two burglary reports in which the perpetrators hid in a store until closing and then actually broke out of the shop after stealing out-of-safe jewelry.
When it comes to those people who spend their lives on the road, JSA says that the most common technique used by thieves to identify travelling salespeople is to wait for them to appear at a jewelry retail store and then follow them to their next destination where they are then robbed.
The top locations for robbing travelling salespeople are parking lots (42 percent), hotel or motels (16 percent) or their place of residence (13 percent). However, they should also be vigilant at gas stations, restaurants, and even while driving.
In addition, the JSA also noted that it had received three reports of losses at U.S. airports during the year. One incident involved taking jewelry from a check bag while it was in the possession of airline personnel. Another person had their bag grabbed from them while they were walking to a shuttle bus in Denver airport. The third airport loss took place at Newark airport’s car rental return area. Scarily, while the salesman was seated in his vehicle and talking on his cell phone, thieves smashed the driver’s window, reached in a took the keys, which they used to open the trunk and steal bags containing some $50,000 worth of jewelry.
In 16 percent of the off-premises robberies (18 out of 113 attacks) a victim was physically assaulted, usually in response to some level of resistance put up by the victim. A gun was shown in 16 of the robberies, while a knife was flashed during 22 incidents. Four attacks took place in which a victim jeweler was stabbed during an incident, although no murders of travelling jewelers/salespeople took place. (According to JSA, knives are increasingly being used rather than guns to avoid more severe sentencing guidelines.)
As in years past, the majority of suspects in off-premises incidents were Hispanic. According to law enforcement reports, the majority of those arrested were found to be illegal residents from Colombia. JSA said that local and federal law enforcement agencies had confirmed the existence of organized criminal groups identified as South American Theft/Robbery Gangs that concentrate their criminal activities against the jewelry industry.
In 2010, unattended losses accounted for about 15 percent of the total number of off-premises attacks. According to JSA, unless expensive insurance riders have been purchased, this type of loss is not generally covered by insurance.
Showing the importance of keeping your goods with you at all times, the largest unattended loss reported to the JSA in 2010 was for a whopping $1 million. It occurred in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 8. The victim left his goods unattended in his car while he made a call at a retail customer. He suspected he was being followed, but unfortunately failed to act on his suspicions. It just goes to show, you can never be too careful.