Jewelry Crime Increases for First Time Since 2012

New York–Jewelry crime rose 6 percent year-over-year in 2016, the annual report from the Jewelers Security Alliance shows.

According to the report, which was released Friday, the total number of crimes committed against U.S. jewelry firms and reported to the JSA last year was 1,245, compared with 1,177 in 2015.

Dollar losses increased in lockstep, rising from $69.3 million in 2015 to $72.4 million in 2016, an increase of about 5 percent.

There were a total of six industry homicides in 2016–five jewelers and one traveling salesman–up from two in 2015.

The 2016 total includes a triple homicide, which Kennedy noted is very rare.

That crime, which happened just before Christmas at a store in Jackson, Mississippi, claimed the lives of 81-year-old store owner Bill Mosley and two employees, 60-year-old Robert Ivy and 70-year-old Ted McLemore.

(Counted in the JSA’s statistic for jeweler homicides are customers, store employees, police officers, security guards and any other bystanders. Suspects shot in the course of a crime are counted separately, and in 2016, there were five robbers killed by jewelers, up from three in 2015.)

This is the first time since 2012 that the number of jewelry industry crimes reported to the JSA has risen, though Kennedy cautions against making too much of the increase.

The numbers overall still are relatively small, he said, and industry crime remains well below what it was in decades past.

He said small, year-over-year increases happen, with one or two additional bands of smash-and-grab or distraction thieves driving up the number.

“It [the number of crimes] will fluctuate,” Kennedy said. “If it doubled, then I would have to say there’s something going on here that we’re not looking at.”
Outside of credit card fraud–only a fraction of which gets reported to the JSA, Kennedy noted–the most frequent type of crime perpetrated against jewelers last year was grab-and-run thefts.

The number of grab-and-runs rose 40 percent year-over-year, from 301 in 2015 to 420 in 2016, with this crime accounting for 34 percent of all thefts reported to the JSA. (Theft is defined as the taking of property without force or fear.)

The average loss from grab-and-runs was $7,664, with one incident in Colorado resulting in a loss of $118,000 in jewelry.

According to the JSA report, the most common day of the week for grab-and-run thefts was Wednesday and the month in which the most grab-and-run thefts occurred was July.

Other notable statistics from the JSA’s 2016 crime report include the following.

–The number of robberies fell from 231 in 2015 to 174 in 2016, a 25 percent decrease. (Robbery is defined as the taking of property by use of force or fear and includes smash-and-grabs as well as armed robberies.)
–The top three most active states for robberies were California, Florida and Texas, unchanged from 2015. These three states accounted for about 40 percent of all robberies in the country.
–New York fell off the list of most active states for robberies in 2016, and was replaced by Michigan and North Carolina.
–Burglaries were up 12 percent, from 256 to 287. (Burglary is defined as entering a business or residence after closing with the intent to commit a crime.)
–The number of off-premises crimes, which includes attacks on traveling salespeople as well as attacks on jewelers at their homes or other places outside their stores, fell to a total of 48 in 2016, the second-lowest total recorded since the 1980s. Kennedy said this is mostly due to the fact that there are fewer traveling salespeople on the road today.

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