10 Most Costly Security Mistakes Jewelers Make
How important is it to you that your business’s operating costs are in check?
In order to turn a profit, business owners need to do more than just close sales – they need to keep expenses to a minimum. While virtually all businesses focus on direct material, direct labor, and basic overhead costs, jewelers have the unique responsibility of protecting extremely valuable merchandise from being lost or stolen.
Shoplifting undoubtedly plagues other retailers like grocery and department stores, but how many pieces of fruit or pairs of shoes would need to be stolen in order to equal the value of a single high-end luxury watch?
While the nature of the industry places a target on the backs of jewelers, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t preventative measures that can be taken. If you recognize that any of these costly security mistakes may be occurring at your business, you should correct them before they become a major liability.
1) Leaving merchandise display showcases open during a sales presentation, or leaving keys in a showcase lock.
This is a terrible habit to get in to because it practically invites a sneak theft.
Veteran criminals only need a few seconds of distraction to slip their hand in and grab a watch or diamond ring. In some instances, thieves have even been known to make off with an entire tray of jewelry!
2) Showing more than one item at a time.
Once again, it’s a poor habit that is all too easy to fall victim to. This situation, however, makes jewelers more vulnerable to a switch theft.
The more merchandise you allow a customer to handle at one time increases the chances that a fake item could be swapped out for an authentic piece.
While sneak thefts usually only go unnoticed for several hours or a few days, we strongly recommend examining each piece of jewelry with a loupe before and after a customer handles it. This practice will let you know immediately if an item has been switched.
Think about how long the theft could go unnoticed if you didn’t!
3) Shipping merchandise to unknown customers making credit card purchases.
If you aren’t carefully scrutinizing the circumstances of the purchase or taking steps to confirm the identity of the buyer, you’re asking for trouble. While any sale can be enticing, think about the context of it all:
- Why is the customer from Texas when your store is in New York?
- Why is the shipping address they gave you different from the billing address on the credit card?
- If the merchandise isn’t unique, why are they going out of their way to get it from you?
Be vigilant and make due diligence to verify every aspect that you can. If it becomes a slow or tedious process to do so, that may be a sign that you’re better off focusing on more legitimate customers.
4) Leaving merchandise in display showcases overnight, or covering merchandise display showcases with a cloth.
Doing both of these things invites criminals to commit a three-minute burglary. Regardless of the type of merchandise, your most secure option is to put it all away in a safe overnight.
Even if you run out of room and leave less valuable items out, covering them up signals to criminals that something valuable could be underneath. Because the reward outweighs the risk in that situation, they may take a chance that high-end merchandise is being covered up.
If they don’t see any merchandise in your showcases they might move on to an easier, more lucrative target.
5) Not having operational line security as an essential part of a jeweler’s burglary alarm system.
Criminals have a penchant for tampering with alarms. They recognize that many jewelers rely on them too heavily and simply assume that because they have them, they are working correctly.
If you don’t respond to your burglary alarm system or are not immediately alerted to a communication breakdown involving your alarm, criminals may use this as a window of opportunity.
6) Not having full electronic alarm protection covering the roof, plenum, walls shared with other occupancies, restrooms and all areas of the protected premises.
Imagine your jewelry business as a castle. If the moat is only a semi-circle around the front, what good does a drawbridge do? Criminals can easily access your fortress by breaking down the areas that aren’t protected. And literally, we mean breaking down.
If you have unprotected merchandise of high-value, criminals will use any means to get at it – including cutting holes in rooftops and tunneling through adjoining walls of neighboring businesses.
7) Only having an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) TL-15 or TL-30 safe.
Some criminals are handy with torches, tools, and other safe-defeating devices. Why would you risk letting your safe be easily compromised when more robust options are available?
A TL-15 or TL-30 safe may be suitable for items of lower value, but many jewelers carry one-of-kind pieces that fetch a hefty price. When in doubt, always opt for the top of the line: a TRTL-30x6.
8) Keeping high-end watches or diamond merchandise in display showcases that have only safety plate glass.
Smash-and-grabs have been on the rise and their effectiveness is lucrative for criminals. They can case a store for months and create a sophisticated plan that allows them to be in-and-out in less than a minute with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise.
Their time-sensitive plans can be drastically reconsidered when it takes longer than expected to access your merchandise. That’s why it’s always recommended to have burglary-resistant glazing material applied to your showcases.
While glazing material isn’t invincible, it’s durable enough to slow down criminals and make them rethink their plans.
9) Failing to properly service and maintain surveillance cameras, or positioning cameras so high that they capture only images of the tops of suspects’ heads.
As mentioned with alarms, the components of your electronic security need to be consistently monitored so that they’re functioning optimally.
Criminals tamper with these devices as well, because they know that a high-definition facial imaging could lead to their arrest, while only partial imaging could let their case go cold.
10) Leaving jewelry merchandise in an unattended vehicle.
Jewelers who travel are at a higher risk of being attacked. They no longer have the protection of alarms, surveillance cameras, safes, or other security devices that are found at jewelry businesses. Yet, when on the road, they may also be carrying vast quantities of valuable merchandise.
Hardly anything could be easier for a criminal to steal than merchandise that is left unattended in a vehicle – even if it’s in your trunk.
If you’re traveling, stay connected with your merchandise at all times. Be alerted to any suspicious activity so you can prepare for any attempt to steal your line directly from your hands.
Of course, there are many other costly mistakes that jewelers can make – we are human after all.
The different scenarios could go on forever, but if you and your entire staff implement sound procedures and practice them often, you’ll be much safer and secure as a result.
An easy way to get everyone at your business up to date on loss prevention best practices is to sign up for our online training platform – JM University.