Tips for Burglary Prevention as Professionals ‘Return to Work’

CrimeOct 02, 2020

Tips for Burglary Prevention as Professionals ‘Return to Work’

JSA says there’s been an uptick in burglaries by skilled criminals after a period of dormancy due to COVID-19.

New York—As stores nationwide continue to reopen and perhaps even extend their hours, the Jewelers’ Security Alliance is urging retailers to review the safeguards they have in place to prevent burglaries.

In its weekly bulletin sent out Thursday, JSA shared a dozen recommendations for preventing burglaries or, at least, mitigating losses.

They included the following.

— Respond to all alarm signals promptly, and examine every possible point of entry—the doors, windows, roof and walls, including those that are shared with neighboring premises.

— Electrical junction boxes also need to be examined since some gangs cut or disconnect the power to disable alarm systems and cameras.

— Don’t leave merchandise out in showcases overnight and don’t cover them; it is safer if potential burglars can see that a store’s showcases are empty. Even less expensive merchandise needs to be put away out of sight, even if it’s just in a closet or drawer.

— Use some interior lighting when the store is closed so criminals who might be casing the store can see the showcases are empty, and police will be better able to spot any intruders.

— Don’t put the store’s safe or safes on an outside wall or a wall that’s shared with a neighboring business. Burglars break through walls to access them.

— Keep surveillance camera images stored on the cloud or in another remote location in the event burglars remove the surveillance equipment when leaving the store.

The tips came as JSA reported an uptick in burglaries as “professionals”—meaning criminals with more sophisticated tools and know-how—have begun to hit jewelry stores after a period of dormancy the organization believes was COVID-19 related.

Over the past two years, burglaries involving significant losses have been “especially frequent,” JSA President John J. Kennedy told National Jeweler on Thursday.

At the beginning of the year, before COVID-19 became widespread in the United States, JSA warned jewelers about a spate of rooftop burglaries that happened in late December through mid-January.

Kennedy said at the time rooftop burglaries had more than doubled from 2018 to 2019, while safe attacks in 2019 totaled 25, up from 13 in 2018, an increase that looked like it was set to continue into 2020.

But the coronavirus pandemic curtailed that activity, just like it did almost everything else.

“During COVID, stores were closed and merchandise locked away at night. There were fewer people on the streets

at night to provide some cover for burglars, and fencing was more difficult and markets disrupted,” Kennedy said.

The recent string of burglaries has hit stores from coast to coast. Different groups are carrying out these crimes, JSA said.

It detailed two in its bulletin that involved the suspects cutting through the roof or the wall.

On Sept. 25, burglars cut a hole in the roof of a store in Savannah, Georgia, dropped down into the store and proceeded to break into and empty the safe.

Police responded to an alarm signal at the store after midnight, walked around the perimeter and looked in the windows but left because they didn’t see anything, JSA said.

Employees discovered the hole and the emptied safe when they arrived to work in the morning.

Late Friday night on Sept. 25 or early Saturday morning on Sept. 26, burglars cut through the cement wall of a church located adjacent to a jewelry store in Grand Island, Nebraska, and cut into two safes.

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to contact JSA at 212-687-0328 or via email at
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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