Your business is unique, and a day in your life is different from every other jeweler’s. However, your days share common traits, and you wake up with the same intentions: to sell your product and please your customers. This is true regardless of your type of business — retail, wholesale, manufacturing, or any combination — or your status within it, from owners to associates.
What would happen if something unexpected disrupts your routine? Perhaps a glitch in your day is only minor, or it could be traumatic and send shockwaves throughout your business.
Unfortunately, you’re a target for crime simply because your merchandise holds tremendous value. This guide provides advice that will make you a difficult target for criminals to pursue and reduce the likelihood of causing a major disruption to your day — and the rest of your life.
After walking through the perils present on a typical workday, you’ll be able to draw parallels with your own routines and identify improvements that can be made to your procedural security.
Rise and shine! To successfully conquer the day, you need to be mindful of your safety as soon as you wake up.
Whether you’re heading to the store or traveling with jewelry for work, it’s easy to get into a routine that blinds you to the flaws in your security. Criminals know when and where these potential lapses will occur and are ready to strike at a moment’s notice.
Giving yourself plenty of time in the morning is the best way to avoid distractions and stay focused on your surroundings. If you’re too caught up in your to-do list for the day or are simply zoning out on your commute, you could easily miss the early warning signs of criminals who may be following you.
Daily Travel Safety Checklist
- Inspect the area outside of your home for suspicious persons or vehicles.
- Inspect your vehicle for any signs of tampering.
- Don’t put stickers, bumper stickers, or personalized plates on your vehicle that would easily identify you as a jeweler.
- Vary the routes and times you depart to work every day.
- Be prepared to use defensive driving techniques if you feel you’re being followed.
- Make sure your phone is with you and fully charged in case of an emergency.
If you’re traveling with jewelry away from your business:
- Never leave your merchandise unattended — don’t check it as baggage on a plane or leave it alone in a hotel room.
- If you’re at a trade show, take your badge off after leaving the event’s security checkpoint.
- When visiting clients, keep your jewelry line in the safe or vault of the last client you see each day.
- Take extra precautions in public areas like parking lots, gas stations, and restaurants.
- Use a mapping service to preview new areas you’re visiting to identify locations of police, fire departments, and public areas of safety.
- Have a detailed itinerary to avoid unplanned situations. Share that itinerary with a trusted person so they are aware of your location.
Opening Your Jewelry Store
You can relax now that you’ve made it to work, right? Not so fast.
Even though you were attentive, perhaps you missed a criminal tailing you on your way in. Maybe a criminal is waiting for you to open because they know you will be alone and your entrance has low visibility. The window of opportunity for a criminal is short, but it’s shockingly wide. Once you realize how efficiently criminals operate, it’s not surprising to learn that most jewelry store robberies happen in the morning.
The key to staying safe is to have a sound opening procedure that is practiced consistently by everyone responsible for opening your business.
Keep yourself and your merchandise safe while opening in the morning.
- Use two or more people during opening procedures.
- Inspect the surrounding area for suspicious activity or signs of a break-in.
- Have one person access your facility while the other watches them enter safely.
- Lock the door and inspect the interior for signs of a break-in.
- After giving an all-clear signal, the other employees should approach and enter the store only if it is safe to do so and then immediately lock the door.
- Remove merchandise and displays from the safe or vault and set out the inventory in showcases and show windows.
- Do not allow anyone (even a customer or delivery person) inside during the setup process.
- Make sure all display cases are locked before officially opening.
Casing Your Jewelry Store
With plenty of time left in the day for a crime to occur, you always need to be on guard.
The excellent news is robbers and thieves don’t simply attack with reckless abandon. They scope out — or “case” — their targets prior to taking any action.
After casing your location for several days or weeks, the criminals may believe the reward of attacking your business is greater than the risk of being apprehended. The sooner you recognize suspicious activities, the quicker you can alert local law enforcement of a crime in the making.
Be suspicious of people who:
- Ask unusual questions like: How many people are working today? What is the most expensive item you carry? Where is your safe located? Do you offer in-store credit?
- Come in at unlikely hours
- Come in as odd groupings
- Make signals to each other in your store
- Are more interested in your security than your merchandise
- Avoid eye contact and conversation
- Avoid touching anything
- Take pictures or videos of your merchandise or displays
- Are or appear to be talking on the phone
- Are dressed to disguise their appearance
Suspicious Incident Logbook
Simply spotting a potential criminal casing is not enough. Even if you need to finish two dozen other tasks before noon, don’t be fooled into believing that committing these situations to memory is good enough.
The information you’re capturing is vital and needs to be as detailed and accurate as possible. There is no place for shorthand descriptions or writing down a note that gets covered up by invoices or junk mail.
Having a dedicated logbook that’s easily accessible for quick entries is one place to start. An even better approach is to keep a digital document and save it in the cloud so you can share it with others (more on that later).
Descriptions to include in the logbook:
Descriptions of People
Ethnicity, hair color/style, eye color, height, weight, estimated age, glasses, style of clothing, tattoos and other physical traits
Descriptions of Vehicles
Make, model, estimated year, color, license plate, and other features like damage, rust, and bumper stickers
Did they tell you a particular story about who they were shopping for or why they were browsing at your location? Were they looking for specific merchandise or mention price points? Did they say anything odd or alarming?
If you’ve encountered something suspicious at the beginning of the day and have shared it with coworkers, you’ve done your part to help protect your business.
Unfortunately, criminals casing your store are most likely also casing other jewelers in your area. Some may even be part of a larger syndicate that operates around the country or across the globe. For these reasons, you need to spread the word quickly.
With information coming in from many sources, you’ll hopefully be on the receiving end of alerts more often than needing to share them—and thanks to all the communication technology options available today, that should be no problem at all.
How to share:
- Type up descriptions of suspicious incidents, take a picture of handwritten notes to send as an attachment, or upload your information to an online document (like Google Docs) with a shareable link to access it.
- Focus on sharing as much as you can immediately after the incident, including surveillance video if time allows.
- Use multiple forms of communication to make sure the alert is well-received (email, messaging apps, text, online groups, and forums).
- Make a phone call if the message is urgent.
Who to share with:
- Local law enforcement
- Jewelers’ Security Alliance
- Jewellers Vigilance Canada
- Jewelers Helping Jewelers
- State associations
- Custom networks of local or regional jewelers
- Industry discussion forums (IJO, Polygon, etc.)
Selling with Security
You’ve been open for a few hours, and customers are coming and going with consistency.
As traffic in your store ramps up, you need to be prepared for the most common type of crime that impacts jewelers — sneak thefts. If security isn’t ingrained in your selling procedures, it’s not difficult for a thief to run off with valuable merchandise.
Successful businesses have the best salespeople, but selling shouldn’t be the only thing on their minds. If you’re not doing the following when interacting with customers, take time to start working them in and helping your coworkers do the same.
Things to practice:
- Meet and greet every customer by making eye contact and engaging them in conversation.
- Assist one customer at a time and inform others waiting or browsing that someone will help them shortly — but keep an eye on them.
- Lock showcases immediately after removing merchandise to show a customer.
- Loupe items before and after showing them to a customer.
- Lock showcases immediately after returning merchandise to the showcase.
- Show only one item at a time.
- Require a photo ID when showing high-value merchandise.
- Use a private showroom to show items of exceptionally high value.
- Never leave customers alone with merchandise.
- Never leave the showroom unattended.
- Always keep showcase keys with you using a wrist key holder.
Shipping and Daily Errands
Hours fly by when you’re selling with security in mind.
Before you know it, the afternoon has arrived, and you need to box up and send out a few shipments. While you’re out, you might even have time to stop for lunch or go to the bank to make a deposit.
Those evasive and attentive driving actions you took coming to work will come into play once again, but you’re on a mission that won’t be completed until your package arrives safely to the recipient. Here are some extra items you need to review to make sure that happens.
Jewelry shipping advice to follow:
- Your package doesn’t contain jewelry terms or identify that it’s coming from or going to a jewelry business.
- Labels are placed directly on the box, not in an adhesive sleeve.
- You have the merchandise in a small (but sturdy) envelope or box and have packed that inside of a slightly larger box.
- The outer box is secured with paper mailing tape or pressure-sensitive shipping tape.
- You’ve handed the package to a courier (required for insurance) – not a drop box – and requested an acceptance scan. Be sure to retain your receipt. Using unmanned drop-off locations and drop boxes voids coverage.
- You have detailed records and a tracking number for the shipment.
Be mindful when opening packages. Accidentally throwing away merchandise is easier than you think. If possible, open packages with another person under surveillance to avoid this risk. Once opened, place the merchandise in a safe place.
Integrating security procedures into your selling style can initially feel uncomfortable, but it eventually becomes second nature. You may even notice you’re becoming more effective, and closing the sale seems more accessible than ever. But you should be concerned if the sale feels like it came too easily.
It could be because the customer isn’t actually planning on paying for the merchandise like you think they are. Stolen credit cards, fake IDs, and email and phone scams have become more prevalent in recent years as fraudsters have become increasingly more sophisticated.
Before October 1, 2015, banks in the U.S. were held liable for credit card fraud, but the use of EMV chip technology has changed that. If a bank issues an EMV card and you process a fraudulent transaction in a non-EMV terminal, the liability shifts to your business. This type of loss is not covered by a Jewelers Mutual Group insurance policy, so you need to be especially diligent when taking payments — sometimes, the risk is not worth the reward.
Watch for these signs of fraud:
- Customers pay with a check that is from out-of-state, post-dated, or lacks a pre-printed address.
- In-store customers appear to be rushed while the transaction is being processed.
- Customers make purchase requests over the phone or via email.
- Higher-than-normal values are purchased over the phone.
- A customer provides you with a phone number for their “bank” so you can call and verify their account.
- A rushed shipment is demanded.
- Customers contact you from different areas of the country.
- Second forms of identification don’t match the credit card or check.
It’s getting toward the end of the day, and so far, so good. You’ve thwarted some security threats and are pleased with the sales you’ve made.
With a lull in the action, you decide to respond to a few emails. With the warning of fraudulent phishing emails on your radar, it’s essential to realize that they are just the beginning when it comes to the entire realm of digital security. One email may appear to come from a friend in the industry with an attachment of a picture of a diamond they think you might be interested in purchasing. Little do you know the email came from a hacker, and the attachment contains malicious content that will freeze your computer system and require you to pay a ransom to have it unlocked.
“Ransomware” is another threat to your digital security, but it doesn’t stop there. You must also be cognizant of the sites you visit and interact with, especially if you’re purchasing something or disclosing other confidential information.
Failing to protect your data — mainly if you handle customer data — can lead to major fines and headaches.
Tips to Stay Digitally Secure
- Only use secured wireless providers to gain access to the internet.
- Encrypt your router to protect your connection.
- Use anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to check your computers frequently.
- Run ad-blocking applications.
- Limit access to data and information and limit authority to install software.
- Create a response plan if you become a victim of a data breach or cyber-attack.
- Properly dispose of sensitive information by destroying or wiping hard drives.
- Back up your information.
Inventory Control and Internal Theft
Even though you’ve done the right things to prevent external threats, mismanaging the process of putting your merchandise away could lead to an embarrassing situation. As you begin closing for the day, be aware of any missing items or displays. While a sneak theft could have occurred, it’s also possible that you misplaced something, or worse — another employee has been stealing.
You should have an inventory software system to help you keep track of merchandise moving in and out during the day, but if something goes missing and you don’t recognize it, that will complicate things in the long run.
Physical counts and reconciliations should be done regularly to keep track of your inventory. To reduce the chances of internal theft, instilling an honest culture in your workplace is important.
How to manage inventory:
- Use dual controls when dealing with cash sales and deposits, staff purchases, refunds, and shipping and receiving merchandise.
- Keep your staff-only areas (safe/vault, bench, etc.) as clean and organized as your showroom.
- Conduct random case counts daily.
- Have a well-documented screening, hiring, and onboarding process for new employees.
- Keep an employee handbook that discusses what to do in the event of suspected internal theft or other misconduct.
- Hold regular employee meetings to discuss your security controls and the importance of honesty.
It’s easy to feel rushed and begin closing procedures while you’re still open, but that’s the last thing you want to do. Just like opening, closing is an especially vulnerable time for jewelers because criminals know there’s a good chance merchandise will be unsecured. Plus, they’re willing to bet you’re more focused on leaving and less focused on solid security practices.
No closing procedures should happen until you’ve locked your doors and turned off (or have taken down) your open sign. From there, reverse the order of your opening procedures. Review the steps again because this is critical to your safety and security.
Protect yourself and your store when closing for the day:
- Close with two or more people.
- Inspect the interior of your business for anyone hiding in bathrooms or other areas.
- Return all displays to the safe or vault, and do not allow anyone else in after you’ve locked up.
- Have one person assess the exterior of your facility while the other watches out from the locked interior.
- After inspecting the vehicle and locking themselves inside the car, the first employee should give an all-clear signal.
- The second employee should set the alarm and lock the door behind them.
- The first employee should watch the second employee exit the building, inspect their vehicle, enter, and lock and start their vehicle.
- As you both leave, be prepared to vary your route and employ defensive driving techniques if you believe you’re being followed.
Once you’ve arrived safely at home, it’s still important to remember that burglars might be targeting your business while you’re away. Adequate physical protection with safes, vaults, and alarms that are listed by Underwriter’s Laboratories will give you peace of mind, but there’s more to consider. If you’re woken up by a phone call at 2 a.m. regarding your alarm and respond negligently, you may regret not being more proactive.
Given enough time, any safe or vault can be compromised. That’s why it’s essential to be notified of alarm signals as soon as they happen and respond to each one with the same sense of urgency.
One tactic criminals use is signaling multiple false alarms to make you think your system is malfunctioning. They may do this over the course of a few weeks or days to monitor your response, and once they recognize flaws in your pattern, they’ll strike.
How to get alerted and respond to alarm signals:
- Review the features of your burglar alarm system with your provider on an annual basis.
- Verify every alarm signal with your alarm monitoring company.
- Go to your business to investigate every alarm signal.
- Follow the same rules for traveling safely to work so you don’t become the victim of an ambush.
- Wait for the police to arrive before parking.
- Allow the police to inspect the premises for you, then tour the site with the police to identify anything that may indicate a burglary occurred or may be in progress.
- Contact the alarm company to determine the cause of the signal — if system repairs are needed, arrange for them to be made immediately.
Home Security for Jewelers
Being confident in your response to a potential crisis at your business is one thing, but what if criminals target you at home?
Before you call it a day, the last thing to do is take actions that boost your safety where it matters most. If criminals are desperate enough and recognize that there’s no way to foil the security at your business, they may target you personally to access the valuable merchandise you sell.
By coercing you with a weapon, they will force you to return to work and grant you access to the merchandise they’re after. This is as emotionally distressing as it is financially devastating.
Follow this advice to avoid potential devastation:
- Never bring merchandise home with you.
- Organize a neighborhood watch program like your crime prevention network at work — you will become aware of suspicious activities happening near your home during the day.
- Have a residential alarm system and consider investing in surveillance cameras that stream live video of your home to your phone.
- Always keep your doors locked, even when you are home.
- Don’t open your door to delivery people or unexpected visitors.
- Create an emergency response plan with your family in the event of a dangerous situation.
Planning for another day
The topics covered in this typical day at a jewelry business don’t encompass every security concern jewelers face.
There are numerous other tasks owners and managers need to accomplish that store associates won’t encounter, such as:
- Purchasing a new safe
- Upgrading the protection of showcase displays
- Preparing to minimize and recover from the effects of a natural disaster
If you have questions about your security that weren’t covered, we’re here to help.
Test your knowledge of safety and security by applying what you’ve learned here with quizzes and other resources on JM™ University. Visit JMUniversity.com to get started in the jewelry industry’s preeminent online training platform featuring a variety of educational courses.
Source: Jewelers Mutual