JSA Says There’s Been a Spike in Distraction Thefts

CrimeOct 27, 2020

JSA Says There’s Been a Spike in Distraction Thefts

The Jewelers’ Security Alliance also offered tips for preventing such thefts in a recent email alert about the uptick.

New York—The Jewelers’ Security Alliance has noticed, and is tracking, an uptick in the number of distraction thefts at jewelry stores.

An email alert sent out Thursday by JSA noted several such incidences across the country, starting in early August.

On Aug. 6, JSA said the suspect pictured at left was shopping in a jewelry store in New York City when he concealed a ring in the front pocket of his pants.

The New York Police Department is attempting to identify and apprehend the suspect.

The following month, a male suspect entered a jewelry store in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sept. 30 carrying a few plastic bags, according to JSA.

He placed the bags on a showcase and walked around the store. When he saw a tray of jewelry left out on a back counter, he moved his bags to that area and circled the store again.

He then rearranged and spread out the bags before reaching over for the tray, sliding it into a bag, and leaving the store.

About a week later, on Oct. 8, a man and a woman carrying a large shopping bag entered a mall jewelry store in Philadelphia.

The woman placed the bag on the counter next to the merchandise she wanted to see, while the man positioned himself so the bag was between him and the sales associate.

The showcase was left open during the sales presentation, and he reached into it twice and took merchandise.

The suspects were in the store for a total of three minutes.

The male suspect is described as about 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 170 pounds with glasses. The female is described as a being around the same age, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 180 pounds with long hair.

Finally, on Oct. 18, a couple (pictured at right) with a small child asked to see various diamonds rings at a mall jewelry store in Little Rock, Arkansas.

While being shown multiple men’s diamond rings, the male suspect placed items in his partner’s purse just before she left the store. The man denied having any rings and quickly left as well.

Those with more information about any of these incidents or the suspects are asked to contact JSA at 212-687-0328 or

In its email alert noting the rise in distraction thefts, JSA offered the following tips to jewelers.

1. Keep
showcases locked and merchandise put away, except when taking out or returning an item.

2. Beware of packages, coats and handbags left on the counter that block the view of a sales associate.

3. Keep an eye on customers wandering aimlessly—they might be looking for unlocked showcases or product left out.

4. Show only one item at a time.

5. Be aware that some thieves use small children to distract and try to show they aren’t a risk.

The JSA recently alerted the industry on increases in other jewelry crimes, including grab-and-run thefts and heists pulled off by “professional” burglars, meaning they involve more sophisticated tools and know-how, like rooftop burglaries.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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