Traveling with Your Jewelry Inventory? Tips for Safety on the Road
Jewelry businesses aren't impenetrable fortresses by any stretch of the imagination, but the physical protection they can provide against crime is often taken for granted.
When traveling to a prospective business partner or trade show with a sizable amount of jewelry inventory, your're without the typical safeguards you're used to: no ultra-durable safe or vault to store merchandise, no video surveillance system to keep an eye on suspicious activity, and no alarm to alert you of danger.
What's most troubling of all is that you're in a completely different location and not as aware of your surroundings.
Criminals are aware of all of these things and see the lack of security as a ripe opportunity — especially when you're traveling by car. Recognizing countermeasures to the dangers that unattended vehicles, parking lots, and the activity of driving in itself present can greatly improve your safety when you're on the road.
Use these tips to protect yourself and your inventory in these dangerous situations:
The bottom line is to stay with your line at all times.
Visiting a business partner? Bring your line into the meeting location. Filling up for gas? Pay at the pump. Getting something to eat? Go through the drive-through.
These may seem like simple trips where your absence from your vehicle is less than a minute, but that's more than enough time for your line to be stolen. And while a car alarm can be a useful deterrent, it does not actually stop criminal actions. It might limit the time they have before escaping unnoticed, but if they are determined to take your merchandise, a car alarm is only a small roadblock.
Obviously, that also means you should take your line with you wherever you are staying overnight. If the alarm were to wake you up, chances are the criminals could already be gone. It's not the same as setting off the alarm at your business and then having to gain access to showcases, let alone a safe or vault.
Parking lots can be the busiest, most distracting places on earth, or seem like the most isolated. Both situations are dangerous for jewelers.
Thieves will generally work in groups in densely populated areas, where one keeps a lookout, another attempts to distract you, and another is responsible for nabbing your line. Their ploy can be as simple as asking for directions or bumping into you and apologizing — if your line is outside your vehicle, all it takes is a few seconds of distraction for it to be gone.
If you are in a less crowded area, take the following precautions:
- Avoid multi-level garages, as they allows too many hiding places for criminals
- Before getting out of your vehicle, examine the parking lot for any suspicious activity
- Before returning to your vehicle, exchange phone numbers with the person you were just visiting and ask them to watch as you safely return to your vehicle with your line — that way they can immediately call police if you are ambushed or alert you if someone is following you after departing
Before even getting in your vehicle, you should have your route planned and share it with your family or business partners.
However, you should consistently vary your route so you don't develop predictable patterns and your plans should remain confidential and close-knit. The likelihood of your plans falling into the wrong hands is higher with each additional person who knows about it.
Don't actually begin driving until you have inspected your vehicle for obvious signs of tampering. Criminals will puncture tires, cut radiator hoses, and attempt to cause other mechanical issues to slow you down so they can commit a robbery as you examine a breakdown in the middle of your route.
While you are driving, assume you are being followed. Take evasive driving techniques, such as these to determine if you are indeed a target:
- Drive slowly
- Change lanes frequently
- Before stopping, drive around the area to see if any other vehicles follow your abnormal route or if you notice suspicious activity nearby
Looking for more tips?
Enroll in JM University® and complete Danger on the Road, a comprehensive safety guide for jewelers who travel.