National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

71-year-old store employee foils robbery attempt

By Brecken Branstrator

January 10, 2014

Dover, Del.--Thanks to an act of quick thinking, a Helzberg Diamonds store employee who also happens to be a septuagenarian was able to put a stop to an armed robbery attempt Tuesday evening.

The incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. as the 71-year-old employee, who remains unnamed, was attempting to close the business for the night and lock the front doors at the Helzberg store in Wilmington, Del., according to the Delaware State Police.

As she was doing so, two suspects approached the front doors of the store from the parking lot, and were then joined by three additional suspects.

One of them tried to force open the front doors to get in, and one brandished a gun. But the employee was able to shut and lock the door before they gained entrance, and ran to the back of the store to contact the police. The suspects then fled on foot.

“In this situation, the sales associate displayed situational awareness and the wherewithal to secure the door and contact state police prior to a dangerous situation escalating,” Sgt. Paul G. Shavack of the Delaware State Police told DelawareOnline.com, the website of The News Journal media group.

“I don’t want to speculate as to the motives or intentions of this group due to the ongoing investigation but similar incidents have been characterized as ‘take-over’ robberies, which are inherently aggressive and violent during the first few seconds of the confrontation in order to intimidate and dominate the victims, taking control of the environment inside the store.”

A Helzberg Diamonds spokesperson declined to comment on the incident.

John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, told National Jeweler on Thursday that if there hadn’t been a gun involved, he probably would have done the same thing and attempted to close the door before the suspects could get in. But in many cases with guns, “it’s been known that they’ll fire right through the door,” he said.

As such, he advises a different strategy for any jeweler who may find themselves in the same situation.

“One can applaud the cool head and bravery in this case, but it was a dangerous thing to do,” Kennedy said. “The safest thing to do in this situation is to cooperate. You’re not likely to get hurt that way."