Atlanta GA. March 15 2009
Crime Reports Against Jewelry Industry Jump 17% in 2008
In its annual crime report, Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) found the number of crimes reported to their data center against the U.S. jewelry industry increased almost 17 percent and total dollar losses rose almost 7 percent to $103.5 million in 2008. Of 1,505 crimes reported to the JSA, there were 425 arrests made, compared with 446 arrests in 2007.
The most crimes during the year occurred in California, with 259 cases, followed by Florida (156 cases) and Texas (125 cases). In New York there were 87 crimes against the industry and 75 were reported in New Jersey. The greatest increase in crime events came from on-premises, up 18.3 percent, and in terms of dollar losses on-premises crimes rose 5.2 percent to $60.6 million. Off-premises dollar losses rose 8.6 percent to $42.9 million. Grab and run events rose 51 percent to 362 instances.
JSA reported that the number of homicides during crimes against jewelry firms almost tripled in 2008 to 11, eight of which were classified as the criminal involved. In 2008 there were 14 cases in which shots were fired — this was twice as many instances as in 2007 — but the number of times someone was shot in 2008 fell to three from 14 in 2007. “These near-fatal incidents had the potential of adding 17 additional homicides to the yearly industry total for 2008. Ten non-fatal shots were fired by robbers and four were fired by jewelers at robbers. Two non-fatal shots were fired by members of law enforcement, one wounding a robber attempting to escape. In another incident a robber shot and wounded a security guard who attempted to disarm the robber. On another occasion, a retail jeweler was ambushed outside of his residence, shot four times and survived,” according to JSA’s report.
There were other trends JSA found in the data. The greatest number of robberies occurred close to store opening time — between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The most active day of the week for crime fell on Thursdays (accounting for 20 percent of reports) whereas Sundays proved to be the least likely day a crime event occurred. The number of robberies involving violence of any kind rose from 29 percent in 2007 to 33 percent in 2008, but robbery events involving a gun fell five percentage points in 2008 to 72 percent.
Off-premise dollar losses due specifically to robberies rose 22 percent and of 31 percent of these robberies (59 out of 187 attacks) reported to JSA, a victim was physically assaulted. JSA noted that an assault was usually in response to “some level of resistance on the part of the victim.” A gun was displayed in 39 of the attacks and a knife displayed during 36 attacks, JSA found. There has been a significant increase in the use of knives by the attacker, and an increased pattern of attacks against Asian victims, especially on the West Coast. Parking lots remained the top target for an attack in 2008, there were 10 home invasions, according to JSA’s count.
“In the great majority of off-premises losses reported to the JSA, in which suspect descriptions were provided or arrests made, male and female Hispanic suspects were indicated. Based on law enforcement reports, the majority of those arrested were found to be from Colombia and residing in the U.S. illegally. Local and federal law enforcement agencies have confirmed the existence of organized criminal groups identified as South American Theft/Robbery Gangs, which concentrate their criminal activities against the jewelry industry,” according to the report.
John Kennedy, JSA president, wrote in the report, “The popular wisdom is that crime will rise when economic times are tough, however history has shown that the incidence of crime against the jewelry industry is more complicated than that. It is extraordinarily rare, for example, for someone who has lost their job or had their house foreclosed to commit an armed robbery of a jewelry store.”
Kennedy continued, “Almost all major crimes against the jewelry industry, including armed robberies, safe burglaries and attacks on traveling salespersons are committed by organized professional gangs that are not motivated by changes in the economy. The number of these crimes fluctuates, but the totals over many years do not show a close correlation with economic conditions. However, the lower dollar crimes against the industry, such as grab and runs, can more often be committed by amateurs, and JSA is seeing a sharp increase in this type of crime.”
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