David Sexton, CPCU, is the vice president of loss prevention consulting at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. He can be reached at 800-558-6411 or dsexton@jminsure.com.
For jewelers, summer may be the slowest time of year, but it’s important not to let your guard down in terms of safety and security. 

Nicer weather often correlates with an uptick in crime as well as storms, and Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has some summer safety tips to help keep you, your team and your store safe and secure. 

Be cautious of casing and other suspicious behavior
What’s wrong with this situation? It’s 95 degrees and overcast outside. An individual enters your store wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up and sunglasses (which they don’t remove) and is engaged in cell phone conversation. Inappropriate clothing for the season, talking on a cell phone, a hood up and sunglasses on to hide their face while “shopping” at your store can all be signs of “casing” activity that precedes crime.

One way to acknowledge and address this suspicious activity is to establish a code word or phrase that you can use in these situations to alert your team to the presence of this potential threat.

When the key word or phrase is used, your team should make themselves visible on the sales floor and one employee should visibly pick up a cell phone and leave the store while dialing the phone.

Visible team awareness in acknowledging the presence of a suspicious situation at the store can help reduce your vulnerability to loss letting would-be robbers know you take the security of your store seriously. 

Almost without exception, some degree of criminal surveillance precedes every jewelry store crime. Criminals observe their intended targets for predictable patterns played out in routine procedures.

Suspicious incidents at your store should be recorded, reported to local law enforcement and shared with your entire team. 

One effective and easy way to ensure everyone on your team is aware of these incidents is to create a “Suspicious Incident Log Book.” Whenever you or another team member believes your store is being cased, record details of the suspicious incident to report to the police and/or mall security and to share with your teammates. You should also share these incidents with your local crime prevention network and the Jewelers’ Security Alliance.

Are criminals looking forward to your vacation?
If you’re planning a summer vacation or will be closing your business for a holiday weekend, would-be criminals may also be looking forward to your time away. 

Be sure that you’re not “oversharing” your vacation plans on store signage or via social media. To a criminal, a photo you share or post from the airport or your vacation destination says that you’re not at the store, and it may be time for that criminal to go to work.

Burglar alarms do not stop burglars. The true measure of any real burglar alarm protection is the reliability of a timely response to a reported alarm condition. Your time away from your business allows the criminal an opportunity to test the reliability of your burglar alarm and physical protection. It is not uncommon for burglars to trigger numerous false alarms to observe who and how individuals respond, so it’s important to respond to each and every alarm condition notification you receive from your alarm company. 

Without conducting a thorough investigation of the source of the alarm you can never know if an actual burglary is indeed underway. After you have been notified, arrange to arrive at your operation only after the police or an authorized guard from your alarm company has arrived. Ask them to conduct the investigation of the source of the alarm, and wait to enter your operation until this investigation has been completed.

When you are out of town, be sure that your alarm company has an up-to-date call list of your authorized team members to contact--who can and will respond to alarm notifications with keys to facilitate a thorough investigation. 

You can also notify local law enforcement of your intended absence and request they conduct periodic checks at your operation while you are closed. 

Leaving merchandise out at night, especially in showcases, is a major risk. When some merchandise will not fit in your safe or vault, store the extra merchandise out of sight. Showcase covers or covering showcases with a drape is not an effective deterrent and, in fact, attracts the attention of criminals who specialize in smash, grab and run burglary attacks. 

Don’t forget about Mother Nature
In addition to maintaining an ever-present vigilance with regard to criminal activity during the summer months, jewelers also need to keep a their eyes to the sky with regard to the potential for severe weather. 

June is the official start of hurricane season, so now is the perfect time to create or revisit your business continuity and disaster recovery plans with your team. 

In addition to a detailed plan with staff and vendor call trees, back-up of inventory control information and important documents stored safely off site, prepare your store for Mother Nature’s worst by investing in:
-- Generators or other means of emergency power, which you should test periodically;
-- A battery-powered radio;
-- Flashlights and extra batteries;
-- Fire protection equipment;
-- Emergency communications equipment;
-- Contact lists, including employees, vendors and official emergency centers;
-- A first aid kit;
-- Camera and film for documenting property before/after; and
-- A fully charged cell phone.

To further protect your premises from a storm, walk around your property looking for any exterior damage or conditions that could allow water to leak into your premises during a storm--gutters or downspouts that are loose, disconnected or clogged, aging trees that could blow over in a storm, and tree branches that overhang power lines or your building. Watch for sunken concrete sidewalks, parking lots or pavers that could direct water flow toward, rather than away from, the building’s foundation, and repair missing shingles and siding cracks in stucco, bricks or mortar.

When it comes to unpredictable natural disasters, failing to plan is indeed planning to fail. These seemingly minor maintenance issues can lead to very costly damage and downtime when they’re further exploited by Mother Nature. 

For more tips and tools to help keep your business safe and secure this summer, visit JewelersMutual.com or call 800-558-6411 to find an experienced Jewelers Mutual agent or broker in your area.


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