Sledgehammers and weapons. Broken glass. Dozens of luxury watches. Gone in 60 seconds. It all happens so fast, even the most prepared jewelers can fall victim to smash-and-grab robberies.
Because rarely is any jeweler without a point of weakness—and for some, this weakness is their jewelry showcases.
Important to know: sophisticated criminals will case jewelry stores for easy targets. They know the layout of a building, where the most valuable merchandise is located in a store, the exact value of the jewels within each showcase, and even how much force is needed to break the showcase glass.
Or they think they do. Some smash-and-grab attempts have been foiled because, as the robbers attempted to smash the jewelry showcases, the glass wouldn’t break quickly, and they fled before authorities arrived.
In these events, jewelers usually had durably built showcases, and the most resilient showcase glass available (one without the other means your cases could be compromised by a few forceful blows of a sledgehammer).
Manufacturing technologies have made some types of glass nearly impenetrable, yet basic, weaker materials still exist and are used for applications that don’t demand as much security. There are three general classifications for glass used in showcases, but jewelers should only consider one for optimal security.
The most common type of glass used in general construction is annealed glass, otherwise known as plate glass. Since showcase manufacturers may work with clients that display significantly less valuable items than jewelry, this option is widely available and cost-effective. But it provides virtually no security, as only a minimal amount of force is needed to break the glass into several large pieces.
Another type of material regularly used in showcases is tempered glass. It is also referred to as safety glass, because when it’s broken, it fractures into small, similarly sized pieces that are relatively harmless. Unfortunately, while tempered glass is roughly four times stronger than ordinary annealed glass, it still does not take much force to break it.
Applying the science behind tempered glass, laminated glass is designed to break into extremely small pieces that hold together when shattered. This is achieved by sandwiching an interlayer of adhesive material in between two or more layers of glass. The glass that is used comes in different thicknesses and a variety of interlayer materials may be used. The thicker the glass and the more interlayer material used, the more force is required to break it. When installed correctly, this glass will produce a characteristic “spider web” cracking pattern when hit with force.
Even if a criminal is able to compromise the glass, there’s a good chance that only the portion of the showcase they’ve “smashed” will be exposed. In that case, they may escape with a handful of merchandise, but not the entire display.
Your business could use the strongest glass ever created, but installing it incorrectly could lead to costly smash-and-grabs. The most secure showcases have glass assembled into all sides of the fixture—and glazing material securing all sides with a full bed of silicone applied during the installation. All materials should also be UL-certified.
Some displays have an “open end” design, wherein the glass spans across several cases resulting in a glass-edge-to-glass-edge joint. The glass sitting atop the showcase is secured only at the back rail of the jeweler’s side of the unit, and the glass in front is secured only on the bottom of the customer’s side. This “L” shaped assembly will collapse regardless of the glass’s ability to resist impact.
As you can imagine, welded glass cube showcases can also be easily compromised due to their construction. While these models have become increasingly popular with jewelers due to their aesthetics, special considerations should be considered when using them. Like other showcases, the glass should extend into the showcase fixture and it should also be bolted to the fixture.
Remember, if your business carries high-value and commonly targeted merchandise like luxury watches, you’ll be better prepared by asking “when will the crime strike?” as opposed to “will the crime ever strike?”
In the end, installing showcases properly and using quality glass could be your only hope of mitigating a potential disaster.
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