What JSA’s Latest Crime Report Tells Us About 2022

CrimeJan 10, 2022

What JSA’s Latest Crime Report Tells Us About 2022

JSA President John Kennedy talks crime trends following the release of the organization’s annual report.

New York—The Jewelers’ Security Alliance recently published its annual crime report for 2020, which was delayed because of COVID-19 but still provides insight about crime trends in the jewelry industry.

President John J. Kennedy said 2020 was a year in which there were more crimes against the jewelry industry, but dollar losses shrank.

He said there were more opportunists committing low-dollar crimes but fewer smash-and-grabs and safe attacks from professional gangs, which sent dollar losses soaring in 2019.

According to the JSA report, the total number of crimes rose nearly 20 percent (1,718 crimes in 2020 versus 1,438 crimes in 2019) but dollar losses were down 18 percent, totaling $83.2 million compared with $101 million in 2019.

The ability to wear a mask without attracting attention was a contributing factor, as were the economic strains brought about by the pandemic. Kennedy said some people who wouldn’t normally steal found themselves in dire circumstances.

Another factor in the 2020 incidences-to-losses ratio: the demonstrations that broke out in the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd and, in some cases, involved looting.

JSA received reports of 323 break-ins related to the civil unrest, accounting for more than half of all burglaries in 2020 (633).

However, dollar losses, which totaled $14.3 million, were not as high as they could have been because jewelers were vigilant about locking away merchandise. (There was also a great deal of property damage, JSA noted, though that is not included in its dollar losses total.)

Two jewelers and one guard were killed while on the job in 2020.

Connecticut jeweler Mark Vuono was murdered during an armed robbery at his store in March 2020. 

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Retired police captain David Dorn was shot by looters while guarding a jewelry store in St. Louis in June 2020 and Eshagh Natanzadeh was murdered in his Beverly Hills jewelry store in November 2020.

Kennedy said one of the most important takeaways from 2020, as well as 2021, is that the most likely crime to happen in a jewelry store is a grab-and-run.

In 2020, there were 581 grab-and-runs, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all thefts reported to JSA.

While there’s not a lot jewelers can do about grab-and-run thefts, there are a couple basic security rules they should remind their staff about, including showing only one piece at a time and not leaving product—a tray of rings for example—out on the counter.

He also noted people are going to continue to wear masks without it being considered odd, making it even more important to follow proper protocols and look for other red flags.

The number of smash-and-grab robberies declined in 2020 (96 vs. 130 in 2019) due to the arrests of members of a large robbery ring operating out of Detroit.

Smash-and-grabs, however, remain a threat—there was a spike this holiday season—but Kennedy said jewelers can reduce their losses tremendously by having burglary-resistant glass on their showcases.

Kennedy said he expects to see a “considerable amount of crime” in 2022, from both opportunists who will take advantage of the ubiquitous mask-wearing and professional gangs that cut power lines to rob safes. 
One final trend worth noting: while dollar losses and the number of crimes fluctuate year to year, jewelry crime continues to trend down overall.

The industry, Kennedy said, is in a better place than it was 25 or even 15 years ago, when annual losses regularly topped $100 million.

Kennedy credits the decline to the work of law enforcement, JSA, and the internet, which has made information sharing quicker and easier.

“That’s all helpful and it gets criminals off the street, which reduces crime, ultimately.”

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance normally publishes its annual crime report in May, but the report has been delayed the past two years because of staffing and logistical issues posed by COVID-19.

To download the 2020 report, visit the organization’s website.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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