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Security alert: Jewellery shows are no time to let your guard down

By Stacey Escott

Jewellery consumer and trade shows provide a great forum to interact with clients and get your merchandise out there to potential buyers.

Yet, they may also be painting a target on your back. Exhibitors who attend them are prime candidates to becoming the victims they never thought they would be—right at the very booth where they feel safe and secure.

According to John Lamont, director of loss prevention for Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC), most reported thefts happen when exhibitors travel to and from jewellery shows. However, he acknowledges exhibitors inside must still be on their guard.

“[Theft] occurs so much because people have this mentality that it will never happen to them. They hear about it, they read articles, and then they think it will never happen—[those are] the people it happens to,” Lamont says.

Once jewellers have arrived at the heavily secured site hosting the show, shown their identification, checked in, and set up their lines, the possibility of theft must never be stored on the back burner.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., explains there are multiple opportunities for thieves to steal merchandise from the comfy confines of a booth. Opportunity theft, distractions, cheque fraud, switches, and even after-hour theft committed by security guards and show workers are all possibilities that are not unheard of. Robbery gangs are also known for staking out shows and working their way inside, says David Sexton, the insurer’s vice-president of loss prevention.

“One of the main things jewellers have to get over is that just because you are at a show doesn’t mean you can drop your guard, or that you can behave any differently than you would in your store or office.” Specifically, he says exhibitors should stick to the same procedures when it comes to showing merchandise and handling showcase keys. In addition, care must be given to limiting the number of people behind the counter area, and making everyone working at the booth accountable, he adds.

Sexton offers several suggestions to help exhibitors protect themselves and to appear less vulnerable as a potential victim.
Be familiar with your insurance coverage. It’s usually understood a jeweller has sufficient coverage when travelling to and from a trade show, but what about ‘while at’ coverage, like when inside the building. Sexton says underwriters evaluate how safe and secure the event is, basing the policy on those details.  

In addition, every jeweller must consider the event’s details carefully. Who is sponsoring the show? Who is going to be allowed into the hall? What protection/security measures will be in place? These points are necessary to ensure you have the right coverage.

“For jewellery shows, there are protocols and procedures in place, and the jeweller can review those to determine their comfort level with what’s going on,” Sexton says.
Have sufficient staff at all times. Sexton advises at least two associates should be in a booth whenever merchandise is on display. “If you are only going to have one person on their own, however, restrict yourself to working with one customer at a time,” he adds.

When there is an incident, both Lamont and Sexton say there is usually some sort of commotion or distraction going on, whether it is set in motion by the thieves themselves or simply used to their advantage. Several people can be asking questions at the same time, or an associate could be conducting a sale, or writing up an order. It can be extremely difficult to multi-task and keep track of what’s going on—proper staffing is crucial.

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