By Lenore Fedow
Seattle—A robbery is every jeweler’s worst nightmare, having their lives and livelihoods put in jeopardy.

At American Gem Society’s annual Conclave conference, which concludes today in Seattle, Jason Johnson, a loss prevention account manager at Jewelers Mutual Group, informed attendees how they could mitigate that risk.

Held on April 8, Johnson’s panel, “Retail Jewelry Crime in Context” provided jewelers an overview of common retail crimes, and how to assess their own risk management strategies.

Here are the highlights.

Train Your Sales Associates

Over the course of the session, Johnson shared a few videos of jewelry store thefts and highlighted where proper training could have prevented an incident, particularly in cases of sneak thefts and burglary.

“A lot of it comes down to the training of the sales associates,” said Scott Guginsky, vice president of Jewelers' Security Alliance, who was sitting in on the session.

Johnson recommended always having at least two sales associates on the floor at all times, which can be especially handy when thieves are attempting to distract.

Be sure employees remember to lock the showcases and put the keys in a safe at the end of the day. Also, refrain from showing a customer too many pieces at a time.

Be Mindful of Inventory

Johnson advised attendees to not only keep careful count of their inventory but to be strategic about where it’s placed.

Switch up the layout as much as you can so that all of the higher-end merchandise isn’t in a single case.

If possible, set up showcases in a maze-like fashion rather than a straight line to slow down a thief, as the average robber, Johnson estimated, is over in three minutes.

He recommended reinforcing showcases with burglar-resistant glass, which can significantly hinder a thief from getting into a display.

Watch Out For Casing Behavior

Johnson outlined a few things that jewelers will want to keep an eye out for when a customer enters the store.

Out-of-season clothing, like a puffer jacket in the middle of summer, may be a red flag.

If a customer asks a question, but doesn’t seem interested in the answer, it may be a distraction technique.

If a customer seems suspicious, one may be able to throw them off by saying that they look familiar or offering them a glass of water. A thief wouldn’t want to leave fingerprints on the glass and certainly wouldn’t want to be recognized.

Know Your Security Equipment

In the event of a robbery, security cameras won’t be of much use if they haven’t been set up properly.

Johnson recommended using HD-quality cameras set up at eye-level near entrances to capture the most useful footage. It is also crucial to know how to retrieve the footage and share it with law enforcement, so get familiar with the technology.

Connect with Local Police

Johnson noted that, because of the value of their merchandise, jewelers have a unique risk, and advised reaching out to local police for training on what to do should a robbery occur, both during and after the event.

If a jeweler has identified casing behavior, he recommended keeping a log of that information and contacting law enforcement to send a squad car to the store to deter potential robbers.

Break Up Your Routine

We’re all creatures of habit, but it may be in a jeweler’s best interest to switch up their routine.

Johnson suggested taking a different route home now and then, or alternating which days bank drops occur to throw potential followers off the trail and make it harder for them to detect a pattern of behavior.

Share Less

Networking and social media are both key elements for growing a business, but Johnson warned about oversharing.

It can be tempting to post vacation pictures and it can seem harmless to tell a friend about a new shipment, but one could be putting their security at risk.

For more information on store safety, Johnson recommended reaching out to Jewelers’ Security Alliance.

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