JSA: As Stores Reopen, Staff Need to Watch for Red Flags
Never getting off the cell phone, heavy jackets in the heat of summer and coming in and out of the store can be signs something is amiss.
JSA President John Kennedy said he expects “things could be heating up” in the coming months.
So far this year, JSA statistics show dollar losses are down dramatically when compared with 2020 and 2019, a year in which dollar losses spiked due to a small number of professional gangs pulling off big burglaries.
The number of incidences, however, remains on par with 2020 and 2019.
“We don’t want to see people become complacent,” Kennedy said Tuesday.
“I can’t say that crime has really taken off, but we are concerned that it could,” he added, noting many people are under financial duress and the world in general remains “topsy-turvy.”
Last week, JSA issued a crime alert on what Kennedy described as a “significant” amount of activity for one week. The organization received reports of four grab-and-run thefts and two smash-and-grabs between June 8 and 15.
According to the alert there were:
— A grab-and-run involving an expensive watch in a jewelry store in Ontario, California on June 8;
— A smash-and-grab in a jewelry store in Montgomery, Alabama on June 9;
— A grab-and-run involving a necklace in a department store in Exton, Pennsylvania on June 9;
— A grab-and-run involving a gold chain from a jewelry store in San Antonio, Texas on June 10;
— A grab-and-run involving a gold chain from a jewelry store in Downey, California on June 12; and
— A smash-and-grab at a jewelry store in Tulalip, Washington on June 15.
In the Tulalip robbery, JSA said the suspect asked to see watches and then walked around the store inquiring about prices while staying on his cell phone the entire time.
He asked to make an appointment at a later date.
Less than 10 minutes later, JSA said the suspect returned with a female companion who inquired about gold watches. The man, meanwhile, went up to a showcase, took out a small tool and smashed it.
He took rings and pendants and ran from the store, with the woman following him.
JSA said there were several red flags in this case that called for associates to exercise additional caution.
The suspect didn’t stop talking on his cell phone—which usually means the individual is communicating with an accomplice—and he left the store and returned shortly thereafter—which often indicates the suspect is waiting for a safer opportunity to strike.
JSA said the suspect also was wearing a puffy black North Face jacket despite the fact that it was 77 degrees that day.
Clothing inappropriate for the season can indicate someone is attempting to conceal their true size, use the garment to put on a showcase to set up for a distraction theft, or is concealing a weapon, as was the case in the Tulalip robbery.
Kennedy said this incidence highlights the need for stores to have a system in place to address security risks, such as calling over a second sales associate to assist or establishing a code word that alerts staff to a suspicious situation.
“If you spot them and they know you’ve spotted them, they might not do anything,” he said.
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