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8 Things to Know About Jewelry Crime in 2018
The JSA’s annual report details the most common crime perpetrated against the industry, the states with the most and least incidences, and more.
New York—The Jewelers’ Security Alliance’s annual crime report is out, and it paints a picture of an industry that is safer than it has been in decades.
Though the number of overall crimes was up slightly, dollar losses dropped dramatically and violence against jewelers hit a low not seen in decades.
Safer, after all, is a relative term when applied to the jewelry industry; there still were nearly 1,500 burglaries, robberies and thefts last year.
“It’s still a very dangerous business, and it will always be a dangerous business,” he said. “You have to follow all the proper security protocol or else you’re going to be a victim at some point.”
Below are eight takeaways from JSA’s annual crime report for 2018. The report charts statistics on crimes that occurred between Jan. 1, 2018 and Dec. 31, 2018 and were reported to JSA.
1. Dollar losses dropped 26 percent year-over-year.
In 2016, losses totaled $75.8 million. That number slipped to $73.9 million in 2017 before plummeting to $53.4 million last year.
Kennedy said the reason for the drop in dollar losses is that JSA, through support from the industry, has been able to hire and pay a full-time crime analyst. This, combined with other upgrades, allows the organization to give more information to the FBI and local law enforcement agencies. And that, in turn, helps them zero in on large, organized theft gangs.
“You’re not going to stop someone who’s going to go in and grab a diamond ring, but the big-dollar gangs, if you get them, you stop innumerable future crimes, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Information sharing online, whether by the trade press or on social media, also helps, he said.
2. The number of incidences involving violence (a gun, another weapon, etc.) also declined.
Robberies involving other forms of violence stood at 18 percent, down from 28 percent and 32 percent in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Kennedy called the trend
It also means fewer jewelers and traveling salespeople getting killed on the job.
Last year, only one member of the jewelry industry lost his life during a robbery, 32-year-old Jason Cullen, who was killed at his family’s Highland, California store in January 2018. The last time there was only a single person killed in the industry was 1980.
The number of jewelers shot but not fatally also fell, from five to three.
Two robbers were killed by jewelers in the commission of a crime in 2018, up from one in 2017.
3. But the total number of crimes rose.
Theft, defined as the taking of property without force or fear as in a grab-and-run or a diamond switch, accounted for 68 percent of all jewelry crime in 2018.
There were 984 thefts reported to JSA, compared with 214 burglaries, 209 robberies and 34 off-premises crimes. (A burglary is when the perpetrators enter the premises after hours with intent to commit a crime while robberies involve the taking of property by force or fear. Off-premises crimes include attacks on traveling salespeople, designers doing trunk shows and companies exhibiting at jewelry trade shows.)
4. The most common crime was …
The average grab-and-run loss was $8,142, and one incident in Texas resulted in a loss of $106,300.
5. The number of smash-and-grab robberies nearly doubled.
For all robberies, not just smash-and-grabs, the greatest number occurred between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m.
Kennedy said this is mainly due to perpetrators hitting mall chain stores late in the day, hoping the mall and the store are not crowded, the staff is tired and, in the fall and winter months, it’s dark outside.
He noted that closing time has always been a “very dangerous time” for jewelers.
6. Off-premises crimes continued to decline.
There were 34 cases reported to JSA in 2018, down from 39 in 2017, with parking lots standing as the most common place of occurrence for off-premises attacks, followed by highways/streets and residences.
Dollar losses dropped by 60 percent to $7.2 million.
The 34 cases consisted of 22 robberies and 12 thefts, including the notable theft of a 20-carat diamond from a Las Vegas jewelry trade show in June 2018, a loss totaling $580,000.
Seven out of the 12 thefts involved merchandise stolen from unattended vehicles, which is not generally covered by insurance, JSA noted.
7. A high percentage of crime is concentrated in a handful of states.
California and Texas, which are the two most populous states in the U.S., topped the lists for most jewelry store robberies and most burglaries.
The most active states for off-premises losses were California (35 percent), Florida (9 percent), Illinois (9 percent) and New York (9 percent). These four states accounted for 62 percent of all off-premises crimes.
8. The JSA received no reports of jewelry crimes from three U.S. states in 2018.
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