National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

17 security considerations for the holidays

By Michelle Graff

October 24, 2013

New York--There are 61 days to go until Dec. 25. There’s no better time to double check the store’s security setup and remind staff that it’s the most wonderful time of the year to be vigilant.

National Jeweler compiled this list of holiday-time security tips using input from Jewelers’ Security Alliance President John J. Kennedy, Patricia Low of Jewelers Unblocked Insurance, the American Gem Society’s Ruth Batson and retailers Craig Underwood, Dilly Kirby of Elizabeth Blair Fine Pearls, Tom Duma, Lauren K. Levison of Mayfair Rocks, Barbara Kaylor of R. Grey Gallery and Mark Clodius.

1. Don’t become careless. The store can get hectic at the end of the year. Even in busy times, keep all showcases locked, except when removing or returning merchandise. Don’t cut corners when it comes to putting jewelry away at night, even when store hours are long and everyone’s tired.

2. Lay off the nog. Don’t drink, or at least don’t drink too much, when serving clients holiday beverages. This is a bad on a number of levels, including security-wise.

3. Set limits. Establish and post notice of a policy limiting the number of pieces that can be shown to a customer at a time; the suggested high limit is two or three. If a customer complains, sales associates only have to point to the sign and let them know it’s the store’s policy.

4. Check it twice. Jewelers may have a lot more inventory on hand during the holiday season. Make sure the insurance coverage is sufficient. In addition, don’t forget to run background and reference checks on all seasonal employees.

5. Bring everybody up to speed. Make sure all staff members, including those brought on part-time for the holidays, are briefed on the proper security practices, via weekly staff meetings or by reading the JSA’s Manual of Jewelry Security.

6. Travel in packs. Don’t stay at the store alone after hours, always leave the store in numbers and vary the route taken to get home.

7. Keep the floor fully staffed. Make sure there are an adequate number of salespeople on the floor, even when there are extended hours. This makes legitimate customers feel more secure and also lets potential thieves know they are being watched.

8. Construct obstacles. Use display cases and holiday décor strategically to making running in and/or out of the store more difficult. But avoid any “blind spots;” all areas that contain valuable merchandise should be visible to staff as well as customers.

9. Don’t advertise absence. While the holiday season is all about being with family, jewelers shouldn’t be too public about heading out of town. Be mindful of social media posts, including status updates and vacation pictures. Posting about traveling puts the store, its employees and even retailers’ homes at risk for invasions, crimes and thefts.

10. Deck the halls, but not too much. While some seasonal décor is festive, don’t clutter up the store windows with so many decorations that it blocks the view of the outside.

11. Evaluate ahead of time. Conduct a full review of the store’s security camera system and DVR, if applicable, and double-check the hard drive recording capability of the DVR. This should be done on an annual basis anyway, so scheduling that yearly check for just before the holidays is not a bad idea.

12. Keep customers safe. Be cognizant of the security of customers and make sure they exit the store safely. They could even be escorted to their cars, especially after big-ticket purchases.

13. Go undercover. One retailer reports that they have “undercover” shopping bags that are completely plain, with no jewelry store logo. While these traditionally are reserved for customers who want to sneak a gift home, they also might work for people who don’t feel safe carrying a shopping bag that screams, “Jewelry inside!”

14. Speak in code. It’s a good time to remind staff that not everybody is on the nice list during the holidays. Practice the code word that’s been developed for when the staff needs to be on high alert and observe how they react. If there is no reaction or there is confusion, they need more practice.

15. Talk to the police. Get a refresher course from the local police department on procedures they like retailers to use in the event of crimes, shoplifting particularly, and ask them to share any tips they have for retailers around the holidays.

16. Perform a closer inspection. Sometimes, customers have been the victim of a crime and they don’t even know it. Be sure to inspect jewelry and watches before providing any type of product service. Discuss any damage or possible gemstone swaps with the client. The last thing a store needs is to be accused of switching a stone.

17. Be aware of the running scams. Know what the latest frauds are that criminals are perpetrating against jewelers. One retailer warned of old European-cut moissanites with abraded cutlets that partially hide the double refraction from the eye, making the stones appear singly refractive like a diamond.

This is the second in an occasional series of holiday-themed lists National Jeweler is providing for its readers. The first ran in September and covered general holiday suggestions, including how to handle social media and collect customer information.