By Brecken Branstrator
Austin, Texas—A recent armed robbery resulted in the shooting and hospitalization of one jewelry store employee in Austin.

According to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, three suspects entered a jewelry store—identified in local news reports as Korman Fine Jewelry—around 5 p.m. last Thursday, May 7, and fired multiple shots.

One employee was hit and sustained serious, potentially life-threatening injuries.

The employee was taken to the hospital and remained in stable condition as of Friday, according to the Austin-Travis County EMS.

Police have taken two suspects into custody—their names have not yet been released—and are looking for at least one more person involved in the robbery.

The investigation is ongoing.

In a news alert sent out Monday afternoon, JSA said despite the fact that only a small number of jewelry stores have reopened, it is seeing a “significant level” of violent jewelry crime.

The organization said as more stores reopen, criminals who have been idle for the past few months are likely to cause an “explosion of crime.”

JSA recommends stores that are reopening follow these safety tips.

1. Jewelers should keep the entrance locked and have an employee or security guard admit a very small number of people at a time; a buzzer system is helpful. In mall locations or those without a locked door, there should be an employee or security guard controlling the entranceway.

2. All admitted customers need to wear masks. If a jeweler wants someone to remove theirs, it needs to be removed outside of the store. JSA also noted there are some limitations, as some jurisdictions require masks be worn and people can’t be asked to remove them before others have moved away.

3. Criminals sometimes try to conceal their identity using more than a surgical mask. They often use hats, hoodies or sunglasses in addition to masks, and some wear scarves, bandanas or rolled T-shirts instead of masks. A jeweler who feels someone is trying to conceal their identity, or is not sufficiently protected without a mask, should not admit said person into the locked store, whether they remove the mask/scarf outside or not.

4. Social distancing needs to be maintained inside the store by employees and customers.

5. Install a camera that is focused to the outside of the store for security and to help with admitting customers.

6. Jewelers who have furloughed or laid off employees should consider if store and showcase keys, alarm codes and safe combinations could become a security issue if they’re in the possession of former employees. The jeweler may need to make changes to prevent any misuse.

7. Jewelers might want to consider shortening or adjusting store hours, especially so their store isn’t the only open business in the neighborhood.

8. Retailers engaging in curbside pick-up should keep the following in mind:

--Look out for criminals who may be waiting nearby, probably in cars, and watching the store;
--Repairs or items ordered online or by phone should be paid by credit card prior to pick-up;
--Two employees should handle pick-ups, with one surveilling the area and handling the door while the other goes to the car to deliver the merchandise;
--Don’t have fixed or posted hours for pick-up; instead make them by appointment, with the car description and license plate number obtained beforehand;
-- Customers arranging for curbside pick-up should be given a designated area as close to the front of the store as possible and visible from inside the store;
--Know the details and limits of jewelers block insurance coverage when delivering merchandise outside the store;
--Let local police know when the store is reopening and that it will engage in curbside pick-up so additional patrols can be made to the store’s location.

9. Keep various COVID-19 supplies in the store: extra gloves and masks for employees and customers, hand sanitizer, disinfectant for wiping showcases and door handles, and jewelry cleaner for wiping jewelry and watches before and after presentation.

10. The basic security principles always preached by JSA will be more important than ever, the organization said in its alert. Follow these standard crime prevention procedures, even when operating with a reduced staff.

--Don’t resist in a robbery.
--Look for red flags to help spot criminals, like three or more people wanting to enter together, nervous behavior and body language, inappropriate clothing for the season and staring up at cameras.
--Follow opening and closing protocols with two employees.
--Keep all showcases locked, except when taking merchandise out or putting it back.
--Show one item at a time.
--Don’t bring goods home.
--Put goods away each night in a safe or vault or, at minimum, put less expensive merchandise in a locked drawer or closet out of sight.
--Respond to all alarms accompanied by security, alarm or police personnel. A full inspection of the interior and exterior of the premises is necessary.

TAGS:   Crime
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