Raid has "hallmarks of organised local gang", says Lee Henderson.

Last week’s raid on Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade has forced UK-wide jewellery retailers to sit up and address store security.

In response, Lee Henderson, intelligence offer for SaferGems – a major UK-based initiative against crime in the jewellery, antiques and fine art trades – penned a special column for Professional Jeweller, offering his thoughts on what jewellers can do to better deter potential jewellery thefts.


"To date this year, SaferGems has recorded 82 robberies and smash and grab at jewellery and pawnbroker stores across the UK. Approximately £6.2 million pounds worth of goods have been stolen.

The recent high-profile raid in Glasgow has the hallmarks of a local crime gang, rather than an organised cross border team. Previous robberies and raids on Scottish jewellers have been committed and linked to organised crime groups from the North of England, in particular the Greater Manchester area.

During 2014, we have recorded eight robberies raids on jewellers across Scotland with almost £2 million worth of goods stolen from these attacks alone. 

Due to security being enhanced and developed by banks cash and valuables in transit companies, jewellers are seen by criminals as easier targets.

Stores across London in particular have been and remain extremely vulnerable to smash and grab raids, the majority of which have been and will continue to be committed by North London gangs who use mopeds and scooters as means of transport.

This year we recorded a series of smash and grab raids at luxury London hotels, with more than £1 million worth of goods were stolen during these hotel raids alone. High-end watches are still the most sought after items with approximately £5 million stolen across the UK to date 2014.

It is believed that high-end watches such as Rolex, Breitling and Omega are being used by low level criminals as status symbols but they are also being shipped out of the country to Russia and the Middle East (where there is a big demand) by organised travelling crime groups originating from Serbia, Montenegro and Romania who travel to the UK to commit robbery offences, some of which involve significant levels of organisation and violence.

SaferGems members are requested and reminded to remain vigilant, continue to report any suspicious activity, behaviour and vehicles to police and dial 999 if under immediate threat."

SaferGems’ security advice for jewellers

1. Training: Train staff what to look out for before a robbery (reconnaissance etc.), what to do during a robbery (comply) and what to do afterwards (preserve evidence)

2. Reduce available stock and cash and so reduce any potential loss

3. Onion peel approach: There is no one measure for crime prevention, many layers provide prevention strategy

4. CCTV: Good, effective CCTV will provide evidential trail and intelligence, such as head and shoulders shots

5. Fogging System: These can stop a robbery at the start

6. Intelligence: Sharing images and other details, locally, within the industry and of course the police will make the environment more hostile for the offenders

Adds Michael Rawlinson, chief executive of the NAG: "You can use SaferGems to report suspicious incidents and behaviour as well as actual crimes so that other jewellers can be alerted to keep a watchful eye open. Remember you will be receiving the same type of information in return, so sharing is caring.

"Work out what are your procedures in the event of an attack. You and your staff need to know who does what, where staff should retreat to that is a safe and secure place. How should staff react to demands? Comply or resist? Without frightening your staff, these procedures need to become second nature and should be practiced and reviewed regularly.

"Think about specialist security protection, doors and locks, window and display cabinet glass, DNA marking to identify attackers, fogging systems. These and other systems are all there to increase your levels of protection for staff and stock. Once you have them installed, don’t be scared to advertise the fact in your window. The criminal will be less keen on attaching you if they know they will be tracked, caught and identified."

SaferGems has links to all the UK police forces, co-ordinating data from the trade on incidents and suspicious events, sends alerts to members of the NAG, the BJA and those insured via T H March, and co-ordinates data across police forces to improve identification and conviction of criminals. For more information, click here.

The NAG will host its Security Conference on October 21 2014, which is free to BJA, NAG members and TH March clients. Further details and a booking form can be found here.