Friday, 9 August 2013

Three minute burglary

It’s only three minutes. What could possibly go wrong?

How much time is three minutes? Most of us think it’s not very long. It’s just about enough to brush your teeth, read this piece, or listen to Abba’s “Waterloo”, but not much else. It’s hardly enough time for anything to happen, especially something bad, right? Wrong.

Recent statistics from Jewelers Mutual, the leading insurer of jewellers in North America, clearly show that the most common cause of loss for their clients is the three minute burglary. This type of loss typically involves retail jewellers though of course any business can be affected. In this scenario, a gang will enter a store late at night, usually by breaking down the front door, though sometimes via other routes such as a common wall or roof entrance, and remove any goods left outside the safe. There is typically no attempt made to break into safes or deactivate the alarm system. The criminals aim to be gone in as short a time as possible, typically three minutes or less, usually a short enough time to avoid police or guard response, so there is no need for them to behave in a covert manner. As well as the loss of stock the business will typically suffer smashed doors, windows, showcases and security equipment. This sort of damage often results in a business being unable to reopen for days, or sometimes even weeks.

In a few of these incidents the thieves have even attempted to remove the safe by attaching it to a chain and towing it out of the store using a truck. As you might imagine, dragging a safe weighing several thousand pounds at speed through a jewellery store causes enormous damage both to furniture and fixtures, and also to delicate jewellery inside the safe. Even if the safe is not successfully removed for later attack, the damage has already been done. The result can be a huge immediate financial loss for the jeweller, compounded by a significant interruption of business.

What can be done to prevent this kind of loss? In the final analysis, if someone wants to break into your store, there is not much you can do about it. However, if you can make the target unattractive enough, you may be able to persuade them to look elsewhere. The first thing to consider is your perimeter protection. Are your store’s entrances and windows properly secured with good quality anti-burglary locks? Would installing bars or anti shatter film on your windows slow down a break-in attempt? Does your alarm system feature glass break sensors? Anything you can do to make this type of attack less likely, or to slow it down if it does happen, is worthwhile.

The next thing to do is to make sure you put as much away in the safe as you can. Don’t give the thieves a reason to break in! If you can’t put as much as you would like away at night, replace your safe with a bigger one and/or buy a second safe and have it bolted into the floor if you can. A really good anti-burglary safe is one of the best investments in physical security you will ever make. Keep the safe out of sight if you can, ideally in a room separate from the selling floor. Do NOT cover your showcases even if they are empty; doing so suggests they have something in them that you do not wish anyone to see. Remove goods from showcases and put them in drawers or otherwise out of sight if you cannot put them into the safe. Do not assume that thieves can tell the difference between white gold and silver giftware when they look into your store; your bangles collection may be all that is required to inspire a burglary attempt.

Finally, review your security system. Does the alarm system cover every room of your premises, including kitchens or washrooms, as well as roof spaces? Burglars have been known to break into less well protected adjacent units and enter via common walls, often made of nothing more than drywall, or cut holes in steel roofs. Early detection may prevent a serious loss. Do you have a recording camera system which would capture images of intruders? If not, consider installing one. And, of course, when it comes down to it, the single most important component of any security system is you; it has no purpose if you do not respond when it indicates a break in may be in progress. Make sure the monitoring station has the right contact details so that they can contact you and your staff overnight. There has been more than one case of the alarm company attempting to contact a jeweller without success because of inaccurate phone numbers being kept on file.

As insurance brokers we have an absolute interest in helping our clients avoid losses. If you are one of our clients and wish us to help you review your security at any time, please call your account executive and set up an appointment. We will be glad to help. If you are not a client, now is the best time to contact us to discuss your insurance requirements; a call tomorrow may be a day too late.

Michael Barnard, CAIB
Account Executive

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Fire Codes and Lock Boxes

I recently received a notice from a fellow broker stating that their client, a retail jeweller was required to install a Lock Box that is "constructed, keyed and located in a manner acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction containing a set or sets of be used in an emergency.  This is per the Alberta Fire Code (2006). 

The actual Fire Code can be found at -

Failure to comply with Alberta's Safety Code Act could result in fines up to $15,000 and/or$1,000 per day.

As you can imagine our client was quite concerned leaving a key in a box attached to their premises.  Concerns included -
  • Is the box strong enough to resist attack
  • Can it be alarmed
  • Who will have access
  • Can we decline to install
I spoke with several sources including locksmiths who are listed as recommended installers by the City of Calgary along with Loss Prevention experts from Jewelers Mutual.  This is what I was told.

Lock boxes also know as Knox Boxes are common in many jurisdiction in the US.  The idea behind the lock box is to allow emergency responders a quick and safe way to access a premises without causing unnecessary damage to the property.  The use of lock boxes is becoming standard as more and more Authorities Having Jurisdiction are requiring this. 

Lock boxes although strong are susceptible to attack if the right combination of tools and wit are used.  A tamper switch can be installed and connected to the existing alarm system in order to help protect.  We highly recommend the use of the tamper switch.

The argument to be made about the perceived vulnerability of the box:  If a would be criminal is willing to take the time to damage the box in order to gain access, why not bypass the box and attack the door or windows.  The time required to get into the lock box leaves the criminal exposed to detection.  If they are able to compromise the box and obtain the key, they still need to deactivate the premises alarm system.  Based on this theory the criminal would be better served by bypassing the lock box altogether and trying to gain entry through any exterior opening.

Although the idea of lock boxes has many jewellers nervous, the actual increase risk of vulnerability is relatively low.  We believe that this system is fairly safe and would not consider this an impediment on your business security.

As always if you would like any additional information feel free to contact me.

Simon Thomas, President

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Shocking Jewellery Crime Statistics

As a broker who specializes in insuring the jewellery industry, it is clear that property crime in Canada is on the rise, and specifically within the Canadian jewellery industry.  The high prices of gold and other jewellery; as well as the recovering economy are two of the main reasons we are seeing an increase of crime against the jewellery industry.

The biggest growing trend and concern to jewellers today is that of the day-time armed robbery.  In the last three years armed robberies have accounted for 50% of the value of reported crime in Canada.  The number one type of loss in the industry is the 3-minute robbery or burglary.  The criminals try to get as much as they can in a time frame they know police cannot respond.

There are two organizations within North America seeking to inform and educate jewellers on the current losses and trends related to jewellery crime.  In the US it is Jewellers Security Alliance (; in Canada it is Jewellers Vigilance Canada (

Both of these organizations recently published their 2012 crime report.  The most concerning statistic is the fact that values in reported crimes in Canada have increased almost 45%.  Losses were $8.1M in 2010 compared to $14.5M in 2012.  However the value of losses in the U.S. declined approximately 30% in 2012.

Canada's population is approximately 1/10th smaller than that of the U.S.; However statistics show that we are dealing with jewellery crime at more than twice the rate of the U.S. 

A concern with these statistics is that it only shows reported crimes in the industry.  I know that there are many losses which do not get reported to JVC or even to the police.  These statistics also do not reflect internal crime.  According to a report from the JVC “Criminologists and other learned individuals in Canada suggest that internal crime contributes an additional 30 % to losses suffered by jewellers.”

With the recent trends and statistics proving that we have a serious matter on our hands, I encourage jewellers to practice better awareness by educating yourself and your staff. Share information with other jewellers and set-up or participate in local crime networks.  It might not be a bad idea to start lobbying to your MP or MPP about the epidemic we are dealing with in the jewellery industry.

Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) works very hard in communicating this information to the jewellery industry in Canada as well as to the police services.  JVC provides the industry with an invaluable service.  I encourage all jewellers to become members and report all crime situations to JVC.

If you would like to explore your jewellers block options or want to re-visit your policy to make sure you are properly covered I would be happy to assist you.

For statistics from JVC or JSA please visit their website or click on the following links:
JVC - (click on crime data)