By Michelle Graff
New York--There have been a half-dozen smash-and-grab robberies in the Midwest over a period of a little more than a month, the Jewelers Security Alliance said in a crime alert issued Friday.

The first in the current string of incidences happened Oct. 6 at a jewelry store in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

According to the JSA, two male suspects entered the business at about 8:39 p.m. with small hammers and used them to smash the top of a case containing diamonds. They were in and out of the store in one minute, escaping in a white vehicle with the loose diamonds they stole.

On Oct. 13 and again on Nov. 3, a jewelry store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile was hit by smash-and-grab robbers.

According to the JSA, the early November incident happened around 11:40 a.m., when three men used a mallet to smash showcases and take high-end watches before fleeing down three sets of escalators.

The suspects are reported as being males between 17 and 25 years old, and between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall.

In the Oct. 13 incident at the same store, the suspects reportedly fled in a gold Jeep Cherokee, the JSA said.

Anyone with information about these two incidents is asked to call Chicago Police Department detectives at 312-747-8384.

20171120 smash suspects 1Security camera footage of the suspects in the Grand Rapids, Michigan (left) and Chicago smash-and-grabs. The JSA said there are a number of steps jewelers can take to prevent or reduce losses from smash-and-grabs, including spreading valuable merchandise out among several showcases.
The three other incidents all happened in cities in Michigan between Oct. 25 and Nov. 13.

In Portage on Oct. 25, four suspects entered a store at 8:23 p.m. One of them held the door while the others headed to the back of the store. Two of them began smashing showcases while the third, possibly a female, put loose diamonds into a bag.

A group of three suspects hit a jewelry store in Novi on Nov. 13, also stealing loose diamonds, while a group of four male suspects did the same at a store in Madison Heights on Nov. 9 and got away with diamond merchandise.

20171120 smash suspects 2Security camera stills of suspects in the (from left) Portage, Madison Heights and Novi, Michigan smash-and-grab robberies.
JSA President John J. Kennedy said they are unable to prove at this time that these crimes are being perpetrated by a singular gang, though there are similarities in location--all the crimes are occurring in the Midwest--and method.

Back in 2014, there were two gangs operating who caused what the JSA described as “an explosion” in the number of smash-and-grabs. Many of the individuals involved in those crimes were eventually arrested and the number of smash-and-grabs dropped after that.

The JSA offered a number of tips to help jewelers prevent or mitigate losses from smash-and-grab robberies.

They include having showcases with burglary-resistant, laminated glass and special frames that can withstand multiple blows from a hammer and spreading out the most valuable merchandise, like high-end watches and diamonds, among multiple showcases.

The JSA also recommends having buzzers on doors, positioning security cameras at eye level so they capture the best possible pictures, keeping a log book of suspicious incidences and sharing information among other local jewelers, the JSA and police.

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