Smash and grab raids cost industry GBP5m in 2014

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Seminar at IJL alerted retailers to three trends in organised crime.

A group of industry experts urged retailers to be vigilant of organised crime gangs, smash n’ grab raids and credit card fraud during a seminar at International Jewellery London on Sunday, pointing to evidence that £9 million worth of luxury jewellery and watches has already been stolen using these methods in 2014.

The seminar, entitled Customer Service Vs. Security, was hosted by retail security expert Hilaire O’Shea, crime prevention co-ordinator of the Metropolitan Police Service Simon Cham, senior security manager at Westfield Shopping Centre Philip Jones and founder of SaferGems Simon Gardiner.

According to Gardiner, £1 million worth of jewellery has been stolen by theft in 2014, as well as £5 million by smash n’ grab raids by gangs on mopeds. A further £1 million has been stolen by fraud, deception and distraction techniques, while another £2 million has been lost through burglaries.

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The panellists pointed to three major trends in retail jewellery crime, starting with theft of luxury watches to be used as status symbols by organised crime gangs. Crime prevention co-ordinator Cham highlighted that Rolex is the most sought after brand by thieves, closely followed by Omega.

The second major trend continues to be the use of mopeds for violent smash and grab raids, especially in the North London area. Cham suggested that retailers should be especially vigilant to groups of moped drivers with more than one passenger per bike, highlighting that a moped can fit in any space that will allow a pushchair or wheelchair.

Finally the seminar panellists urged retailers to be hyper aware of any and all types of credit card fraud, including tampering with the machine in store during distraction robberies. They also advised retailers to never accept an incoming call from a bank, something which has been used as a technique in past crimes.

Westfield security manager Philip Jones admitted that in his experience 95% of retailers don’t share information on crime, giving thieves the opportunity to use the same techniques again in different areas.

Some of these issues are now being addressed through SaferGems, an organisation designed to disseminate information and pictures of suspicious persons and activities. 9,000 jewellers have signed up to the organisation since the British Jeweller’s Association got involved in 2011. Since 2009 it has recorded over 3,000 crimes and incidents across the UK.

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