Last week we wrote about the groups of roving “distraction” thieves hitting U.S. jewelry stores, and how they work to purposely confuse salespeople so they can make off with merchandise without anyone noticing (read the story here).
Experts agree that these types of crimes can’t happen when employees are following strict security protocols during sales transactions. Which got us thinking about the costly mistakes retail employees and owners occasionally make that can lead to theft.
Here are 10 of the most potentially costly security mistakes jewelry store professionals make:
Leaving merchandise display showcases open during a sales presentation or leaving the keys in a showcase lock. Veteran criminals only need a few seconds of distraction to slip their hand in and grab a watch or diamond ring. In some instances, thieves have even been known to make off with an entire tray of jewelry!
Showing more than one item at a time. It’s a situation that leaves jewelers more vulnerable to a switch theft.And the more merchandise you allow a customer to handle at one time increases the chances that a fake item could be swapped out for an authentic piece.
Shipping merchandise to unknown customers making credit card purchases. If you aren’t scrutinizing the circumstances of the purchase or taking steps to confirm the identity of the buyer, you could be asking for trouble. While any sale can be enticing, question irregular details such as a shipping address that’s different from a billing address.
Leaving merchandise in the display showcases overnight or covering merchandise display showcases with a cloth. Doing both of these things invites criminals to commit a burglary. Regardless of the type of merchandise, your most secure option is to put your entire inventory away each night in a safe.
Not having operational line security as an essential part of a jeweler’s burglary alarm system. Criminals love tampering with alarms. They recognize that many jewelers rely on them too heavily and simply assume that because they have them, they’re working correctly. If you don’t respond to your burglary alarm system or are not immediately alerted to a communication breakdown involving your alarm, criminals may use this as a window of opportunity. Regularly maintaining your alarm and responding to every alarm signal—as well as maintaining your surveillance and other electronic security features—is a solid deterrent.
Not having full electronic alarm protection covering the roof, plenum, walls shared with other occupancies, restrooms and all areas of the protected premises. Imagine your jewelry business as a castle. If the moat is only a semi-circle around the front, what good does a drawbridge do? Criminals can easily access your fortress by breaking down the areas that aren’t protected. And literally, we mean breaking down.
Only having an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) TL-15 or TL-30 safe. Some criminals are handy with torches, tools, and other safe-defeating devices. Why would you risk letting your safe be easily compromised when more robust options are available? A TL-15 or TL-30 safe may be suitable for items of lower value, but many jewelers carry one-of-kind pieces that fetch a hefty price. When in doubt, always opt for the top of the line: a TRTL-30×6.
Keeping high-end watches or diamond merchandise in display showcases that have only safety plate glass. Smash-and-grabs have been on the rise, and criminals who target stores can case a store for months and create a sophisticated plan that allows them to be in-and-out in less than a minute with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise. Their time-sensitive plans can be drastically reconsidered when it takes longer than expected to access your merchandise. That’s why it’s always recommended to have burglary-resistant glazing material applied to your showcases. While glazing material isn’t invincible, it’s durable enough to slow down criminals and make them rethink their plans.
Failing to properly service and maintain surveillance cameras or positioning cameras so high that they capture only images of the tops of suspects’ heads. As mentioned with alarms, the components of your electronic security need to be consistently monitored so that they’re functioning optimally. Criminals tamper with these devices as well because they know that a high-definition facial imaging could lead to their arrest, while only partial imaging could let their case go cold.
Leaving jewelry merchandise in an unattended vehicle. Jewelers who travel are at a higher risk of being robbed. They no longer have the protection of alarms, surveillance cameras, safes, or other security devices that are found at jewelry businesses. Yet, when on the road, they may also be carrying vast quantities of valuable merchandise. Hardly anything could be easier for a criminal to steal than merchandise that is left unattended in a vehicle – even if it’s in your trunk. If you’re traveling, stay always connected with your merchandise.
Human error is part of life, but educating your staff on these and other security weaknesses can be the difference between getting robbed and keeping you, your staff, and your inventory safe. —Logan Moore