Find out how to protect your business from internal crime.
When there is a crime at a jewellery shop, the phrase “inside job” is often bandied about. A jewellery shop is very different to any other kind of retailer due to the high value and small size of the merchandise, and, despite security measures, jewellers have to put a lot of faith in staff.
But just how well do you know your staff? Did you check them out thoroughly before employing them? It would seem that few retailers do, whether from wanting to put trust in staff, a lack of knowledge about how to do it or hiring under time pressures.
Ordering background checks on prospective staff is easier than you might think. The National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) has teamed up with global information services company Experian to offer its members a staff vetting service. The scheme works by performing a search, which should be performed before the person is offered the job. The search will confirm that the person is who they say that they are, whether they have a criminal record and whether they have any serious financial problems that could make them at risk of turning to criminality.
With prices starting at £46 for a basic background search, the NAG Experian staff check is not expensive; particularly when you consider what could be lost by inadvertently employing a criminal. But despite this, the NAG says that it has had hardly any take up on the scheme.
It is not a legal requirement to carry out these checks, as it is with professionals who work with children, for example, but it is surely a step in the recruitment process worth taking when hiring strangers to handle your precious materials, whether as a store manager or a Saturday assistant. While these checks cannot pick up on intent, they can certainly uncover any past history and with a clear check, your mind will be set at ease.
A RELUCTANT INSIDE JOB: TIGER KIDNAPS
Not all inside jobs are carried out willingly; sometimes staff are forced into helping criminals carry out raids on their employers by way of threat.
There has been an incremental rise, according to insurance broker TH March, of what are known as tiger kidnaps, although the numbers in the UK jewellery industry are still very low.
These sorts of offences involve a criminal holding a person of importance to the victim, say a child or spouse, as hostage and using them as collateral to get the victim to help them carry out a crime, threatening to hurt or kill the hostages if that person does not do exactly what they want. In the case of the jewellery industry this could be to steal some goods or it could be something more subversive such as not setting the alarm when leaving the shop at night.
Tiger kidnaps are called such because of the predatory, stalking nature of the crime. Criminals will often spend a long time monitoring the business they wish to target and the person that they will use to assist them before striking.
We must stress that this kind of crime is still rare in the jewellery sector, but when it does happen it can be a hugely stressful and dangerous experience and it is best to be prepared.
The best precaution against tiger kidnaps is something called dual control. It is a system used by banks all over the world that requires two people to perform a security-related task, such as setting the alarm. This is obviously not always operationally possible for small businesses but it is a safety procedure to consider.
Code words are also important. If a member of staff has been subjected to a tiger kidnap they will be operating under huge amounts of stress, something other staff should hopefully be able to detect but often the criminals will monitor the situation to make sure that the person does not tell. Therefore a code word that can explain the situation immediately and without being detected is useful. It is the same standard practice that many jewellers already use to alert staff to a suspicious customer.
Protecting your home as well as your shop is also a vital strategy. Criminals will often try to use deception to get a victim out of the house, so if you are called to an emergency alarm or told a family member is in hospital, it is advisable to call back to check the authenticity of the call. It is also advisable to educate children in the home not to give away too much information about your movements or job in case a criminal calls up fishing for information.
This article was taken from the December issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the digital version of this issue, download PDFs and share it click here.