By Michelle Graff
New York--For many jewelers the weeks to come will, hopefully, be a time when their stores are crowded with holiday shoppers.

While increased sales are great for a store’s bottom line, the long hours associated with waiting on more people can lead to jewelers cutting corners or making mental mistakes when it comes to security procedures--not closing and locking showcases, leaving product on the counter or not putting away inventory at night. 

Recently, Jewelers Security Alliance President John J. Kennedy spoke with National Jeweler about the seven most common mistakes jewelers make as the holiday rush hits, and he shared his recommendations for avoiding them.

1. Leaving showcases open
The fact that there are more customers in the store and employees are running around trying to wait on them all can mean that showcases don’t get closed and locked every time someone takes out a piece.

This leads to more sneak and distraction thefts, but those can be avoided if jewelers remind employees that the same security procedures apply year-round, no matter how busy the store gets.

Close and lock the showcase every time a piece is removed. Also, only take out one piece at time. Don’t, for example, remove an entire tray of rings and leave it on the counter.

2. Not properly training temporary workers on store security
Whether it’s hired holiday help or a bookkeeper brought up from the back of the store, those who don’t work the sales floor regularly need an orientation on security procedures.

“You have to make sure they’re all up to speed on security,” Kennedy said. “Your weakest link could be that person who’s only there for a month.”

He also recommended that when jewelers hire someone for a seasonal job who is completely unknown to the store, they pay a firm to do an online background check on that individual. A solid online background check costs about $150 in most cases.

“That person has just as much access to you as any thief, if not more,” he said. “If you don’t know them, then you better (do a background check).”

3. Turning their backs on customers
Like No. 1, this error also occurs because the store is busy.

Retailers or their employees leave jewelry on the counter while they turn around to do gift wrapping or grab a calculator and thieves take advantage. They snatch a ring or a watch and run out the door, or switch a diamond for a cubic zirconia.

“You can’t really turn your back on the customer when there’s product on the counter,” Kennedy said.

4. Being under-insured
Jewelers have an unusually high inventory at this time of year. Kennedy said they have to make sure their coverage is sufficient for what they have in their stores.

5. Leaving product in the showcases overnight
Even though days, and nights, get long at the store, Kennedy reminds jewelers that product needs to be put away at night.

If possible, everything should go into the store’s safe or vault. If that’s not an option, then at least put in a place where it’s not visible from the street.

6. Putting up too many decorations
Employees need to be able to see out of the windows so they can keep an eye out for anybody who appears to be casing the store. Also, in the event there is a crime taking place inside the store, police need to be able to see in, Kennedy said.

In addition, decorations should not be hung in such a manner that they are impeding the view of the store’s security cameras. The cameras need to be able to clearly show individuals’ faces in case of a theft.

7. Not hiring a security guard
“If you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid of hiring a guard,” Kennedy said.

Yes, it costs money, but having a guard in the store during the holiday season could be worth it. In addition to providing an extra layer of security, they can open the door and greet customers, customers whom the employees might not be able to wait on right away because they are busy.

Kennedy said that the security guard should be dressed just like the store’s salespeople, in a shirt and tie.

He also recommended that when a store hires a security guard, they go with an off-duty or retired police officer. While retired officers likely will charge slightly less per hour, he acknowledged that both are going to come with a relatively high per-hour price.

But it is worth the money.

“You get what you pay for,” Kennedy said.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.