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Proceed with caution: Twelve tips for strengthening your business’s security

By Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group

Following months of lockdown measures, retailers across Canada have slowly and carefully been reopening their brick-and-mortar stores.

While it is of the utmost importance to ensure precautionary measures are in place to keep staff members and customers healthy, business owners must also keep security top of mind and remember robberies and thefts are still a very real threat that can result in significant loss. To that end, jewellers should ensure their store security is strong—not only for the fast-approaching holiday season, but for the entire year.

Indeed, neglecting security measures could leave one’s business exposed during a time when crimes against jewellers tend to escalate. What’s more, falling out of the habit of ensuring best practices will only get more difficult to correct as weeks and months pass. 

Keeping in mind that jewellery store thefts have increased in recent years, here are 12 easy-to-implement tips to help thwart avoidable crimes.

One-piece show

Unfortunately, grab-and-runs are among the more common thefts in jewellery retail stores. To help prevent these crimes from taking place, enforce a staff-wide policy of only showing one piece of jewellery at a time.

Savvy thieves posing as customers might try to appeal to the accommodating nature of your sales staff and attempt to make an associate feel guilty for not letting them try more than one piece on to compare. If this happens, the team member can offer to wear the pieces themselves to allow for side-by-side comparisons.

Of course, some clients might be insistent on trying on multiple items at once. To help them understand this practice is a security measure enforced by your security company, tasteful signage that can be displayed in your showcase can be downloaded for free online.

Put it in writing

If you experience a suspicious incident in your store, document it immediately. Create a running spreadsheet that can easily be searched and filtered by date, event description, and other tracked variables of note. After all, reviewing your surveillance footage daily is much less costly than paying an insurance deductible or replacing stolen merchandise.

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As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This adage is incredibly true when it comes to tracking suspicious incidents in a jewellery retail store.

Speak up

Further to the previous point, if you encounter any suspicious activity on your premises, tell your staff, crime prevention network, and local law enforcement. Specifically, report unusual incidents to the police and inform Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC). This organization can assist law enforcement in determining whether similar incidents have occurred in your area recently. It is also helpful to have a pre-established code word or phrase you can use to alert your staff that something unusual is happening.

Teamwork makes the dream work

When performing your opening and closing procedures, always do so with two or more employees.

When opening the store, one associate enters the premises while the other observes. The associate unlocking the facility should immediately lock the door after entering and then conduct a complete walk-through of the premises to look for anything suspicious. The second associate, meanwhile, observes from a safe distance with a cell phone ready to call police if needed.

The second employee only enters the building after receiving a pre-established ‘all-clear’ notification from the first associate. The door should, again, be locked behind him or her, and the employees can then work together to open the safes and/or vaults, set up display cases, and prepare for the day’s business. (For more tips on how to open and close a jewellery store, click here.)

“Hello” goes a long way

Be sure to meet and greet every customer who enters your store and make direct eye contact with them. Even if an associate is busy with another client, he or she should still go out of their way to offer a quick, friendly greeting. This immediate acknowledgment could be enough to tell any potential thief your staff members are alert and attentive, making your store a difficult target when it comes to crime.

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Additionally, keep a close eye on groups of three or more customers in your store. People rarely shop for jewellery in large groups and these individuals could be casing the location or working together to commit a distraction or sneak theft.

Built to last

Make sure the showcases used for displaying valuable merchandise are strong enough to withstand a smash-and-grab robbery. Sophisticated criminals will case jewellery businesses to determine the easiest path for committing their crimes. Further, they will know the layout of the building, where the most valuable merchandise is located, the exact value in each showcase, and even how much force is needed to break the showcase glass.

By ensuring you have a well-constructed showcase with resilient glass, you can limit—or even completely prevent—the loss of merchandise during a smash-and-grab robbery.

Stay tuned

Verify every alarm signal with your alarm monitoring facility. While safes and vaults are critical to limiting the amount of merchandise stolen in burglaries, criminals have proven time and again that, if given enough time, they can compromise even the most durable of security equipment. This is why your alarm (and your relationship with your alarm system provider) is so valuable.

Contact your alarm system provider to ensure your alarm is providing the protection your business needs.

Name recognition

When conducting a cheque transaction, make it a policy to require multiple forms of identification, including at least one with a photo. Compare signatures carefully from all forms of identification to ensure they match and keep a copy or record of the information.

Keep some secrets

Don’t post photos revealing the layout of your store or merchandise displays anywhere online. This includes social media, as well as resources your customers may use to find you, such as Google.

Stay wise

Frequently review jewellery industry crimes to keep informed of what’s going on with your fellow jewellers. If you’re unsure of where to look, check out JVC’s website as a resource for crime information and assistance.

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Pack it up

Keep as much merchandise as possible in your safe or vault overnight. While this may be a time consuming talk at the close and opening of business, you’re not fooling criminals by simply throwing a blanket over your showcases at the end of the day.

Share the knowledge

Make sure your staff is informed of and educated in effective security practices. JM (Jewelers Mutual) University offers many free education resources through its online learning platform. Likewise, JVC’s website features a range of articles on loss prevention, inventory control, and display case security.

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. Comments and questions can be sent to lossprevention@jminsure.com.

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