Beware Of Organized Gangs Of Jewellery Thieves

Beware Of Organized Gangs Of Jewellery Thieves

The 2017 year-end report published by Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) indicated the lowest number of criminal acts against jewellers in many years. So far this year, 2018 is showing to be the opposite, so now is not the time to be complacent about potential robbery.

Because most jewellers assume it will never happen to them, most are not really prepared for when a traumatic event like this occurs. As robberies and other thefts become more frequent and violence escalates, you owe it to yourself, your staff, and your customers to learn what to do when lives are at risk and to protect your merchandise and profits.

A hardening of the target must be done by layering your security program while not creating an unpleasant and hostile environment for the honest customers that come into your place of business.

Recently in the Greater Toronto Area an organized gang of thieves targeted a number of jewellery stores. They entered the stores armed with a handgun and smashed showcases or demanded showcase keys in order to steal merchandise.

It is imperative that anybody involved in the selling of jewellery and watches ensure that their staff is properly and regularly instructed on how to behave during a serious criminal event.  The protection of life should be of utmost concern.  This can be one of the most inexpensive security measures you can take to help protect staff, customers and merchandise. I have had many jewellers tell me they do not want to frighten their staff by having such training sessions or by showing them JVC alerts as to what types of crime are taking place in their area. It is understood that criminal events are upsetting, but in this modern world we “Either face reality or reality faces us.” (Nathanel Kanyinga).

The JVC crime web site has many good articles and guidelines dealing with criminal issues specifically for jewellers. You will find articles on the following:

  • Three Minute Break and Enters
  • Shop Theft
  • Travelling Salesperson Risks
  • How to Stay Safe During a Robbery
  • Robbery Prevention and Safety Techniques

Under the icon “Articles and Videos” I would recommend reading the following:

  • Display Case Security
  • Hardening of the Target

The best thing is these resources are all FREE to download.

JVC has recently reported on an increase in Distraction Thefts primarily in Ontario and Quebec, but also in Alberta.  Law enforcement agencies suggest there are several hundred organized gang members from Eastern Europe that have entered Canada since December 1st, 2017, due to the relaxation of immigration visa laws. These gangs are travelling across Canada committing thefts in jewellery stores as well as department stores such as Walmart. The criminals work in pairs as husband and wife, or father and son.  Although Alberta, Ontario and Quebec are the main target areas, all retailers should remain vigilant.

JVC describes two main types of distraction scenarios:

  1. They engage the sales associate and ask to see a number of pieces of jewellery or watches. One subject will engage the clerk in conversation, and produce a large sum of cash, sometimes in Canadian funds, American, or even Euros. This has a tendency to have the associates “let their guard down” and allow themselves to be distracted. This is when the thieves will strike and the second person will pocket merchandise, usually expensive gold chains or bracelets or high-end watches.
  2. A second scenario involves a request to see a number of pieces of gold jewellery, and they request to have it packaged in separate boxes, or sometimes all in one box.  The subjects produce numerous $100 bills or Euro’s to pay for the items. They then tell staff they are going to the bank for currency exchange. When they do not return and the boxes are opened, it is discovered that all the jewelry is missing.

All the crimes, once reviewed on video, could have been prevented.

If you suspect thieves have entered your store, call in another sales associate to assist. Remain in control of the jewellery, and deal with one piece at a time. If asked to package items separately remain in control of the product until the payment transaction is complete.

Report any suspicious activity to JVC so they can track the movements of these organized groups. If we communicate as a team and share information we minimize the risk for everyone.