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An ounce of prevention: Tips for protection against three common jewellery store crimes

Never show more than one piece of jewellery at a time. If a customer is adamant about seeing pieces side by side, put one on yourself and let the customer compare.

With crimes against jewellers on the rise and a new fiscal year underway, it is important to recommit to making safety and security a top priority for your jewellery business. To help confront the threat of crime in 2023 and beyond, what follows is an outline of the three most common types of jewellery store crimes and the steps you can take to prevent them.


A smash-and-grab robbery is a brazen attack that happens quickly and typically results in high-dollar losses. If you have ever seen surveillance footage of this type of crime, it may seem as though nothing could have been done to stop it. While ensuring the personal safety of you and your team should always be the top priority and no one should ever be put in harms way to protect merchandise, there are steps that can be taken to thwart smash-and-grab robberies.

Tips for prevention

  • Keep front doors and windows clear of obstructions. This helps improve overall visibility. Employees will be able to see suspicious persons outside, and passersby can see inside.
  • Spread high-value merchandise throughout your showroom and showcases rather than keeping these items in a singular location.
  • Use a video surveillance system with both overt and concealed cameras. Post signs announcing you have a surveillance system recording images 24 hours a day, with footage monitored and stored off-site.
  • Consider installing burglary-resistant glass for your showcase sides, fronts, and tops. This will help slow down an attack. Robbers want to be in and out as quickly as possible, and this material may prevent them from accessing your merchandise altogether.
  • Be sure to have multiple employees on the sales floor at all times. A team member should greet customers as they enter, leaving others available to provide ongoing customer service. An actual customer will enjoy the attention they have received, but a criminal might feel uncomfortable and leave.
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Grab-and-run theft

Criminals committing grab-and-run theft will typically walk into a store and appear to be browsing, then they will move toward the most valuable merchandise on the showroom floor and ask to see a particular piece. Once they have their hands on this item, they simply run off with it.

Tips for prevention

  • Ask for identification before allowing a customer to try on merchandise, no matter its value. Once you have verified the ID is legitimate, retain it until the customer hands back the piece. Remember to show an item only after you have examined the ID, though, as multitasking can be risky—some grab-and-run attempts involve suspects taking merchandise directly from the hands of sales associates before their ID was deemed legitimate.
  • Never show more than one piece at a time. If a customer is adamant about comparing pieces side by side, put one on yourself and let the customer compare. Never have more than two pieces out of your showcases at once, as some criminals are bold enough to attempt grab-and-run thefts with entire trays of rings.
  • Pay attention to a customer’s behaviour when they ask to see a piece, as many criminals appear nervous or fidgety before attempting a grab-and-run. Document suspicious incidents and share this information with your staff. If a suspicious customer returns at a later date, your team will know how to react.

Distraction theft

In a distraction theft, thieves will work together to overwhelm sales associates to the point where one of the criminals in the group is not attended to and gains access to merchandise. These groups may enter the store together and disperse or they might enter separately.

While they may not appear to be colluding upon entry, these criminals likely cased their targeted location numerous times and are co-ordinating a well-orchestrated effort. The lengths these criminals will go to can be very dramatic. In some cases, individuals will feign illnesses or appear frustrated over poor customer service and cause an uproar. Worse still, children have also been used as pawns to create distractions for these thefts.

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Tips for prevention

  • Greet every customer who enters your store—this shows would-be criminals you are paying attention.
  • Offer to help customers on a one-to-one basis and stay focused on the customer until the individual has left. Politely remind others you are in the process of helping someone and will be with them as soon as you are available.
  • Always keep showcases locked, even when showing merchandise.
  • Never allow your showcase keys to be accessible to anyone but store associates.

A team effort

There is no denying crime is a real threat to jewellers everywhere. Jewelers Mutual is concerned about the state of the industry and is encouraging jewellers to join its “Partner for Protection” movement, dedicated to reducing jewellery crime.

Participants pledge to:

  • Rethink their security strategy and make safety a top priority for their jewellery business.
  • Stay vigilant and follow safety and security best practices.
  • Be a leader in getting the message out to their staff, neighbours, and jewellery community.

For resources regarding safety and security when carrying or working with jewellery, visit For more information on reliable burglar alarm systems, subscribe to the Jewelers Mutual Clarity blog at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group is the only company specializing exclusively in jewellery insurance in Canada and the United States. It is licensed in Canada and all 50 states.

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