By David Sexton
The price of strong security is an ever-present vigilance.
This key awareness is at the heart of every effective loss prevention strategy deployed by a jewellery store operator—both on the business’s premises and off premises while travelling to and from work. This notion sounds simple enough, right? That’s because it is; however, while basic at its core, this level of vigilance requires the steadfast commitment and discipline of every individual involved in the operation.
This critical awareness is even more important when it comes to jewellers travelling away from their homes and businesses—and, as professionals working in the jewellery industry, we must remain cognizant that good security practice starts at home.
On the home front
As a jeweller who works with valuable materials and items, the safety of your home and your loved ones who live there is already, to some degree, at risk. Unfortunately, this threat tends to be the case when those with criminal intent know you work with valuable goods.
Fortunately, understanding these special exposures to loss can help you and your family better prepare to reduce these threats to your security. Of course, this preparation and proactive planning will not eliminate the potential for loss, but it can help you mitigate your exposure to it. Remember: when it comes to your safety at home, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Likewise, travelling to and from your place of business can expose you to additional potential loss, as this movement can be observed over time by interested third parties with criminal intent. For many years, before the extensive utilization of GPS tracking technology, criminals have been able to effectively track jewellers by applying both active and passive surveillance over the professional’s preferred daily routes, both to and from their place of business.
Active surveillance tactics might include following a jeweller in a vehicle, or even multiple vehicles in a convoy organization.
Meanwhile, passive surveillance tactics refer to criminals that pre-position themselves along a jeweller’s preferred daily route, then note the day of the week and the time the jeweller passes by a fixed surveillance location. These criminals often keep a log of the jeweller’s movements that span days, weeks, or even months to discern the professional’s typical travel patterns.
To that end, it is essential for a jeweller to vary his or her route to and from their place of business with the objective of being less predictable regarding both time and place—or, in short, to become much less observable to criminal surveillance tactics.
The jeweller should have at least three different viable routes to reach their business before leaving the safety of their home:
- a primary route, which they will vary multiple times during the week;
- a secondary route, which they will take if they suspect they are being followed; and
- a third route, which will allow them to immediately proceed to utilize evasive driving techniques to reach a pre-identified place of safety they can go in situations where they feel threatened.
It is important for jewellers to report all suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Likewise, this intelligence should be shared with members of their team, as they are also travelling to and from the business.
Open for business
Upon arriving at the place of business, a jeweller and members of their team should always observe the sound two-party opening procedures.
In this scenario, one party is watched by the other, who is located in a remote safe distance from the business. The remote ‘observing party’ should be equipped with a cellphone to call for assistance should the need arise.
The ‘opening party’ should open the door, lock it behind them, turn off the burglar alarm, and then conduct a thorough interior search of the protected property. Once these steps are complete, the opening party provides the observing party an ‘all clear’ signal to approach and be permitted to enter the business. The doors remain locked until the jewellery is removed from its secure location and set out for the usual business day.
These procedures should be reversed when it’s time to close for the day.
This system is aimed at deterring or interrupting any interested third parties with criminal intent who may be ‘casing’ the business. These individuals will likely be observing these procedures over time, keeping an eye out for any weak links in the store security they can exploit.
Opening and closing a store remain a special period of vulnerability for any jewellery retail operation, especially when procedures are inconsistently observed. For this reason, it is important jewellers and their team members remain vigilant about security measures—both in the store and outside of it.
David J. Sexton, CPCU, is the former vice-president of loss prevention consulting at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group in the United States. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Sexton serves on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Security Systems Council, where he is a corporate member of the insurance category. He also sits on the board of directors for Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) and worked on the Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA’s) Insurance Liaison Committee, which assisted in the development of the UL burglar alarm modular certificate program and revised UL standard. Comments and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For resources regarding safety and security when carrying or working with jewellery, visit JewelersMutual.com. For more information on reliable burglar alarm systems, subscribe to the Jewelers Mutual Clarity blog at jewelersmutual.com/clarity-blog. 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.