The Clarity Blog

Code Words & Phrases and Their Crime-Deterrence Power

on May 12, 2015 10:54 AM

Code words and phrases

"The sad monkey sulks in the moonlight!"

Where do they get some of those odd code words and phrases that they use in the spy movies?

Jewelers Mutual advises jewelry businesses to adopt a secret code word or phrase that store staff may use to alert each other of suspicious activity. However, we advise against borrowing a ridiculous phrase from a B movie.

Combined with proper staff training and procedures, a good code word or phrase can be a powerful tool in a jewelry store’s crime-deterrence efforts.

We know that in the vast majority of “in-person” crimes against jewelers — armed robberies, smash-and-grabs, distraction thefts, switches, etc. — the perpetrators have been in the store before, casing it and planning their next moves. Similarly, perpetrators will sometimes “browse” around in a store for several minutes before acting, waiting for the right moment in which to strike.

These are instances where an observant staff member equipped with a code phrase that all other staff associates have been trained to understand could derail a would-be thief’s plans.

For example, if you see someone who you believe may be casing the store, your use of the code phrase will put the other store associates on high alert. In accordance with the code-phrase procedure, a team member leaves the store conspicuously carrying a cell phone. That associate observes from a safe distance outside the store, poised to call 9-1-1 if necessary.

If the would-be thief notices the staff response, he may be discouraged from acting. And if he does act, the “cell phone sentry” store associate will be able to call 9-1-1 to alert the police.

Even if the suspicious individual in this instance was casing the store and did nothing to initiate a crime at that time, the employees will have carefully observed the individual. If the individual should return with the intention to commit a crime, the likelihood of a staff member’s recognizing the suspicious individual will be greater because the code phrase had been used during that individual’s previous visit.

As mentioned above, stay away from cornball spy-movie code phrases. Use a phrase that your customers will perceive as authentic enough to be a believable element of conversation among jewelry store staff.

For example, the staff could all agree on a fictional customer name such as “Stanley Hampton,” to serve as the code phrase. Everyone will know to be on high alert when a store associate asks, “Is Stanley Hampton’s appraisal ready for pick-up?”

Remember, the use of a code word or phrase will be effective only with proper staff training and procedures! In private staff meetings, regularly remind the team of the importance of Stanley Hampton.