By Michelle Graff
New York--The number of crimes perpetrated against the jewelry industry are up slightly in the first six months of the year while dollar losses are down 12 percent, statistics from the Jewelers Security Alliance show.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, there were 551 crimes reported to the JSA, compared with 528 in the same period last year, a 4 percent increase.

Dollar losses have totaled $27 million, down from $30.8 million a year ago.

The JSA’s mid-year report breaks down jewelry industry crimes into four categories:
--Robbery, the taking of property from a person by use of force or fear;
--Burglary, entering or being on premises after closing with intent to commit a crime;
--Theft, crimes like grab-and-runs, distraction thefts, diamond switches and sneak thefts that don’t involve force or fear; and
--Off-Premises Crime, attacks on traveling salespeople and jewelers when they are away from their stores.

It also gives totals for arrests (126 in the first half of 2017 versus 132 last year) and homicides.

Below, National Jeweler shares five key points from the report, with commentary from JSA President John J. Kennedy.

1. There were five homicides, and all of them happened between Jan. 5 and Feb. 26.
This is up from one jeweler and three robbers killed in the same period last year.

Those five deaths include the murders of three jewelers, one customer and one good Samaritan.

A 65-year-old customer was shot to death inside a Miami jewelry store in January. That same month, a jewelry store employee and a man who tried to stop a jewelry store robber who was running through the mall were killed in separate weekend robberies.

In February, 42-year-old Noah Ashene was stabbed to death during a robbery at the Memphis, Tennessee jewelry store where he worked, and Omid Gholian, 43, was found dead inside his New York City shop.

2. The number of off-premises crimes is at a six-year low, at least.
There have been 15 off-premises crimes so far in 2017.

That is down from 18 in the same period last year, and less than half of what the industry saw even just five years ago; in the first six months of 2012, off-premises crimes numbered 37.

Dollars losses from off-premises crimes remained relatively unchanged at $5.8 million.

“For the industry as a whole, it is very telling that off-premises crimes were really at an all-time low,” Kennedy said. It speaks to how the industry distribution system has changed, and there are far fewer salespeople out on the road today.

He said even if the number of off-premises crimes double in the last half of the year, reaching 30, that is still well below the totals seen 15 or 20 years ago, when off-premises crimes numbered about 350 per year.

“The off-premises losses, 15 and 20 years ago, dollar-wise, were more than all of the other crimes against the industry combined.”

3. Robberies also are at a six-year low.
A total of 77 robberies were reported to the JSA in the first six months of 2017, compared with 91 last year, 132 in 2015, 131 in 2014, 142 in 2013 and 159 in 2012.

Kennedy said the number of smash-and-grab robberies involving high-end watches is down drastically from previous years.

Losses from robberies have totaled $8.4 million so far in 2017, down from $16.3 million in the same period last year.

4. The number of burglaries were down too, but dollars losses were up 56 percent.
There were 103 burglaries totaling $8.9 million in losses reported to the JSA in the first half of the year, compared with 107 burglaries and losses of $5.7 million last year.

Kennedy said this is due to a small number of very high-dollar burglaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

5. Thefts are the highest they’ve been since 2014.
There were 356 cases of theft reported to the JSA in the first half of 2017, up from 310 in the same period last year and 294 in 2015.

Kennedy said part of it has to do with the bands of Roma, also known as gypsies, perpetrating distraction and sneak thefts at stores across the country, which the JSA has been issuing warnings about since last fall.

Also contributing to the increase in the number of thefts is more reporting of incidences of credit card fraud, which is classified as a theft.

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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.