May you live in interesting times is an ancient Chinese saying that certainly applies to the jewellery business today. Faced with slow sales and the highest levels of crime that I have ever seen against jewellers the situation is miserable to say the least. High unemployment, an apparent level of disinterest by law enforcement and record gold prices are providing a fertile ground for criminals. The frequency of claims that are being reported are running as much as ten times higher than five years ago with no signs of relenting. Perhaps too, it’s no surprise that people on depleted incomes are less choosy about who they buy from, creating conditions where even silver goods are being stolen.
The implications for insurers are serious, since there is little room for them to increase premiums due to push back from jewellers and too much under-utilised capital washing around the insurance industry. However, insurers are not in the habit of writing business to lose money indefinitely, which usually results players withdrawing from the market causing premiums to increase dramatically.
So what can be done to head this off? Effective improvement to premises security is the first consideration. Many older safes are now completely outdated by current criminal technology and as a result millions have already been lost to jewellers and insurers. Modern tools will cut through the following safes in minutes: -
Class 1, 2 and 3.
Class C Fire
1 and 2 Hour Fire.
None of these safes should be used to hold serious values, especially in street front, strip mall and free-standing buildings. Jewellers need to ensure they have safes that are resistant to torch attack and modern diamond tipped cutting tools. The current minimum standard for new safes is TRTL15X6 and TRTL30X6, but many older TRTL30 safes and ABP (anti-blowpipe) models are also suitable. If you do not have this type of safe it is essential to install one if you are located in a major urban area and stock diamond and gold goods in particular.
Alarm calls must be responded to in person. Care should be taken to see if a truck is parked close to your business. Typically, safe burglars need a truck to carry all their gear; they usually trip the alarm and then hang around to see what happens. If the only response is a police officer or security guard peeping through the shop window and then leaving, it is like an all-clear sign to the burglars who now have many hours to work on the safes.
Protecting show counters containing diamond and high value goods with security film or laminated glass will delay and reduce the loss during a hold-up. This may even head off an attack in the first place, since thieves casing a store check for this kind of hindrance and may well go elsewhere.
These are basic security ideas that help reduce serious loss and disruption. There are many other tactics, techniques and security devices that will further assist which we will be happy to discuss. Excellent sources of help are available from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company and Jewellers Vigilance Canada.
In my 40 years experience, premiums have never been lower and the losses have never been higher. Something has to give and investment by the jewellery industry as a whole is essential to avoid large premium increases in the future.