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Code Words & Phrases and Their Crime-Deterrence Power

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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.

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About Jewelers Mutual Group

Jewelers Mutual was founded in 1913 by a group of Wisconsin jewelers to meet their unique insurance needs. Later, consumers began putting their trust in Jewelers Mutual to protect their jewelry and the special memories each piece holds. Today, Jewelers Mutual continues to support and move the industry forward by listening to jewelers and consumers and offering products and services to meet their evolving needs. Beyond insurance, Jewelers Mutual’s powerful suite of innovative solutions and digital technology offerings help jewelers strengthen and grow their businesses, mitigate risk, and bring them closer to their customers. The Group insurers’ strong financial position is reflected in their 37 consecutive “A+ Superior” ratings from AM Best Company, as of November 2023. Policyholders of the Group insurers are members of Jewelers Mutual Holding Company. Jewelers Mutual is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, with other Group offices in Dallas, Texas and Miami, Florida. To learn more, visit JewelersMutual.com.