Report: Crimes Against Jewelers Up In 2008, Organized Gangs Main Cause

The Jewelers' Security Alliance recently released its 2008 Annual Crime Report covering crime against the jewelry industry in the U.S. The total number of crimes against the industry increased 16.6 percent, with total dollar losses of $103.5 million.

"The popular wisdom is that crime will rise when economic times are tough, however history has shown that the incidence of crime against the jewelry industry is more complicated than that,” said John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers' Security Alliance. “It is extraordinarily rare, for example, for someone who has lost their job or had their house foreclosed to commit an armed robbery of a jewelry store.

"Almost all major crimes against the jewelry industry, including armed robberies, safe burglaries and attacks on traveling salespersons are committed by organized professional gangs that are not motivated by changes in the economy. The number of these crimes fluctuates yearly, but the totals over many years do not show a close correlation with economic conditions."

The report breaks down by state the 1,505 crimes reported to JSA for 2008. The state with the most reported crimes against jewelry firms was California, with 259 crimes, followed by Florida, Texas and New York. There were 425 arrests of criminals involved in the 1505 crimes, down slightly from 446 arrests in 2007.

Ten years ago an average of 10-15 jewelers were killed each year during robberies. That number has steadily declined to the point that two jewelers were killed in the U.S. in 2008. JSA attributes this major, long-term decline in violence against the industry to the successful efforts of the FBI and local law enforcement agencies in combating violent, organized criminal gangs.

However, JSA believes that lower dollar crimes against the industry, such as grab and runs, can easily be committed by amateurs, and JSA is seeing a sharp increase in this type of crime.

Grab and run crimes reported one of the largest increases in any category, increasing 49 percent in 2008 to a total of 362 reported cases.

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