National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

Thieves targeting Rolex retailers in the Midwest

By Hannah Connorton

April 25, 2014

New York--A group of thieves targeting Metro Detroit jewelry stores that sell Rolex watches has struck twice in the same day, and area jewelers should review their surveillance footage to look for suspicious behavior around their stores.

On Tuesday around 5 p.m., three masked men robbed Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in West Bloomfield, Mich. They ordered everyone to the store on the ground, demanded to see Rolex watches and other jewelry and fled with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, a local news outlet reported.

The suspects reportedly were driving a dark-colored Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

Tapper’s was the second store the group hit that day. Prior to holding up Tapper’s, they attempted to steal from Paul Medawar Fine Jewelry in Grand Rapids, Mich. by smashing a display case with a hammer.

Michael Briant of security consulting and threat management firm Skydas Group International said this roving crew practices take-over robberies and are targeting stores that sell Rolex watches.

He said they’re traveling across the Metro Detroit area to conduct these robberies, targeting jewelry stores within close range of major highways for quick getaways, or stores in a strip mall or shopping centers, as Tapper’s is located.

The thieves appear to be somewhat organized, as two robberies occurred in the same day, Briant said.

He suggests jewelry stores in the upper Midwest keep an eye out for outlier behavior --meaning people who are acting suspiciously around the store -- as “surveillance [by the perpetrators] prior to a robbery will always occur.”

“You cannot carry out a robbery without it,” he said.

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Briant told National Jeweler that as jewelers have made security changes, so have professional jewelry criminals.

“Jewelers have stopped carrying live jewelry on their persons, so thieves are now robbing retail establishments with smash-and-grabs or armed robberies,” he said, “and it’s occurring nation-wide.”