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10 Tips to Prevent Smash-and-Grab Robberies at Enclosed Malls

on Sep 15, 2022 8:32 PM
jewelry case smash grab hero

Smash-and-grab jewelry store robberies at enclosed mall locations are increasing in frequency and severity in the U.S. and Canada. These are often high-profile, brazen attacks that happen quickly and result in high-dollar losses. If you’ve ever seen surveillance footage of one, it almost appears as though nothing could have been done to stop it – but that’s not always the case.

According to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) annual crime report, dollar losses from crimes against U.S. jewelry firms for the 20-year period 2002 to 2021 totaled $2.2 billion on an inflation-adjusted basis. 85 smash and grab robberies and 842 grab and run thefts contributed to the 1,687 crimes committed against U.S. jewelry firms in 2021.

If you are a mall-based jeweler, there are effective ways to make your store a hard target and discourage criminals from attempting a smash-and-grab crime at your location. Jewelers Mutual has put together 10 security tips to help keep you and your staff safe while preventing and/or mitigating losses to your jewelry business.

 

1. Be aware of casing behaviors

Jewelry store robbers will extensively case jewelry stores to determine the path of least resistance for committing their crimes. They will know the layout of the mall and store, where the most high-value product is located and how much force is needed to break the showcase glass. 

Be on the lookout for the following suspicious behaviors so you can sniff out a potential crime before it happens:

  • Large groups of people entering at normally slow times 
  • People talking, texting or signaling to others inside your store 
  • A customer asking questions about your security operations 
  • Individuals who avoid eye contact when greeted or offered help, and who claim they are "just browsing" 
  • People wearing bulky clothing that doesn’t match the season, and people whose attire tends to conceal their appearance

Keep a logbook of suspicious incidents to keep your staff and law enforcement informed. 

 

2. Increase the number of employees on the sales floor

Always have multiple employees on the sales floor – one should greet customers as they enter, and others should provide ongoing customer service. An increased presence of sales associates can make a would-be robber think twice about going through with their crime. 

 

3. Show one item at a time and keep display cabinets locked

When helping a customer, avoid showing them an entire tray of jewelry at once. Show them one item at a time. Make sure to lock the display case every time you take out a piece. Never set the display keys down, always keep them on your person. Don’t leave the customer alone with a piece, remain engaged throughout the entire transaction. 

 

4. Use a video surveillance system that has overt and concealed cameras

In addition to concealed cameras, consider using eye-level security cameras. This not only deters criminals but provides quality facial images as evidence. Place signs around the store announcing you have a surveillance system recording images 24 hours a day with footage monitored and stored off-site.

 

lock jewelry safe vault

5. Lock safes and vaults during business hours

A popular tactic of smash-and-grab robbers is to enter stores in large groups and distract sales associates while one of their members steals merchandise from safes and vaults. Keep everything locked up!

 

6. Spread high-value merchandise throughout the showroom

While it may be common practice to position the most expensive jewelry towards the front of the store, it can be a liability in a mall setting. The open floor layout makes it far too easy for a robber to quickly enter the store, steal merchandise and escape through a sea of shoppers. Make it harder for thieves to commit a crime by spreading high-value items throughout the store, including towards the back. 

 

7. Make sure your showcases are durably constructed with burglary resistant glass

One of your best lines of defense in preventing or slowing down a smash-and-grab robbery is to make your display cases as impenetrable as possible. To achieve this, consider applying U.L. certified impact resistant glazing materials or laminated glass to the sides, fronts and tops of your display cases. It’s vitally important to properly install these products, as framing may reinforce a case’s ability to withstand blunt force. 

Laminated glass is tough and resilient and when shattered it forms a “spider web” cracking pattern rather than breaking into dangerous shards. In most cases, robbers are only able to retrieve a small amount of merchandise from a small hole. They frequently cut themselves which can leave behind valuable DNA evidence from blood.

According to the Jewelers Security Alliance (JSA), “Showcases with burglary-resistant, laminated glass and special frames can withstand many blows with a hammer and can prevent or reduce large losses.”

Jewelers Mutual works with National Glazing Solutions (NGS) Films and Graphics to strengthen your showcases at a discounted rate. To get started, fill out the online inquiry form or email [email protected]

 

8. Hire an armed guard 

If you want to add a whole new level of security to your business, consider hiring an *armed guard from a reputable security company. Having an armed guard stand at the front of your store during business hours can discourage casing behaviors and provide protection during a smash-and-grab robbery attempt. You’ll get peace of mind knowing there’s an armed guard on-site with the tools to keep you and your business safe. 

Securitas is a vendor that provides on-site guarding services*. If you’d like to learn more, send an inquiry email to Randy Querry at [email protected].

*Certain property-management groups may not allow malls to be staffed by armed guards, so it’s best to check your lease agreement, as well as local laws before attempting to add a security guard. Services are not a substitute for insurance coverage. Please consult an insurance professional for insurance needs.

 

9. Pull all or most of the merchandise at close of business day

Anything that is left out and visible is practically an invitation for robbers. To expedite evening jewelry pulls, consider adopting a track and rack system. Load trays of jewelry onto large racks with wheels, then roll them directly into vaults or transfer them into safes.

 

10. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage

There is never a guarantee that your jewelry store won’t fall victim to a smash-and-grab robbery. That’s why it’s critically important to make sure you are adequately insured in the event of a loss. A smash-and-grab crime can cause devastating damage in a short amount of time, rendering a business financially unstable. Don’t let this happen to you. We highly recommend reaching out to your insurance agent to confirm you'll have enough coverage should the worst ever happen. 

 

Additional Resources

 

Have Questions? 

Contact the Risk Services team at [email protected].

 

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