Jewelry Crime Declines Significantly, But Dollar Losses Remain High

CrimeApr 24, 2024

Jewelry Crime Declines Significantly, But Dollar Losses Remain High

A double-digit drop in the number of in-store crimes was offset by a jump in off-premises attacks, JSA’s 2023 crime report shows.

Stock image of police crime scene tape
New York—The number of crimes perpetrated against the jewelry industry dropped significantly in 2023, though dollar losses remain at a decades-long high, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance’s annual crime report shows.

Released Tuesday, the report is an annual accounting of all the jewelry crimes reported to JSA in the past year, broken down by category and occurrence.

According to JSA, the number of jewelry crimes totaled 1,621 in 2023, down 27 percent from the record 2,211 incidences reported in 2022.

Despite the decline in the number of crimes, dollar losses were up 3 percent to an inflation-adjusted, 14-year high of $133.2 million, topping the $129.4 million in losses reported last year.

In an interview Tuesday, JSA President John J. Kennedy explained why dollars losses increased while the number of crimes plummeted. 

He said the organization saw a massive drop in the number of grab-and-runs in 2023, which contributed to the overall decline in the number of crimes. 

Grab-and-runs were down from 984 in 2022 to 663 in 2023, a 33 percent drop, more than any other category tracked by JSA. 

Kennedy attributed the decline to fewer people wearing face masks now as compared with the years immediately proceeding the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If you can’t wear a mask … you’re probably less likely to want to do it,” he said. 

But there was also a significant increase in what JSA classifies as off-premises crimes, e.g., attacks against traveling salespeople or trunk show operators, retailers or their customers being robbed away from the store, and thefts at trade shows. 

The number of these types of crimes rose 54 percent year-over-year, from 65 cases in 2022 to 100 cases in 2023, while dollar losses more than doubled, soaring to $40.4 million, compared with $19 million in 2022.

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Kennedy pinpointed this increase as the main reason the industry saw dollar losses rise again in 2023.

Of these crimes, the majority, 71 percent, took place at either trade shows (41 percent) or involved a traveling salesperson (30 percent).

The number of reports of trade show losses doubled year-over-year (20 in 2022 vs. 41 in 2023) with dollar losses averaging $245,000.

“JSA has taken a more active role in working closely with trade show organizers to ensure proper security and safety concerns are addressed,” the organization noted in the report. “JSA also shares intelligence with law enforcement regarding the professional criminals who target trade shows.”

Kennedy said Tuesday that trade show organizers are making a “major effort” to tighten up security at shows from Las Vegas to Atlanta to Miami, particularly as it pertains to badges.

He also noted, as he does every year when the organization’s annual crime report is released, that while up year-over-year, the number of off-premises incidences remain well below the levels recorded in decades past.

In 1999, for example, there were 323 off-premises losses, the vast majority of which were attacks on traveling salespeople or trunk shows organizers.

In the report, JSA attributed the decline to dedicated interest by law enforcement, particularly the FBI; there being far fewer traveling jewelry salespeople on the road today; and greater education and sharing of information regarding suspects.

The jewelry industry lost only one member in 2023, Peter Damian Arguello, owner of Peter Damian Fine Jewelry in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Arguello was shot to death in his store on the morning of Nov. 29. In late December, police arrested 41-year-old Charles Robinson Shay of Aurora, Colorado, in connection with Arguello’s death.

To read the report in full, visit the JSA website

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