On the other hand, DO pay attention to what’s going on so you can be a good witness – How many suspects are there? If they are disguised, notice physical characteristics such as height. What kinds of cars are they driving?
FBI special agents reported on jewelry thefts and what you can do to avoid being a target during a meeting on May 20 in Houston hosted by the American Gem Society Texas Guilt and the GIA Houston Texas Chapter. Aguilar and Special Agent John Chiue outlined two aspects of jewelry-related theft – Colombian gangs who target traveling sales staff; and safe-cracking teams who target your stores. Authorities arrested and prosecuted members of one Houston-based safe-cracking ring implicated in a three-year, $19 million crime spree known to law enforcement as the “Waltz Across Texas.” Aguilar and Special Agent John Chiue offered background and tips designed to foil both types of major crimes.
Safe crackers work in teams of two or three. They like to strike in winter months when it gets dark earlier, after you close your store on Saturday. They’ll use radios to communicate with the “lookout.”
Thieves like to target stores in isolated areas away from apartment buildings or other residences. They like to have easy access to a 24-hour Walmart or a Home Depot, in case there is a problem and they need additional tools.
They may very well climb the outside of the building, cut into the roof, disable the alarm and leave. They’ll watch to see what kind of response there is to the alarm being disabled. If there is little or no response, they’ll return an hour or two later to begin working on the safe.
- So, make sure the police respond to an error message in your alarm system whether or not you believe it to be a false alarm.
- Make sure there is a security system and cameras inside your vault that you can monitor remotely from the Internet. Have camera coverage on the roof, too.
- Check the placement of the exterior antenna attached to your security control box. Make sure the box is placed as far away as possible from the antenna (by using more cable) to make it more difficult for thieves to locate and disable the box.
- Update your insurance coverage.
- Have photos available of your inventory.
- The sides of safes are more vulnerable than the doors. Make it difficult for thieves to access the sides of your safe.
For Traveling Sales Associates:
- Thieves operate in groups of four to six. They’ll watch jewelry stores looking for the arrival of new rental cars. “If you have a jewelry store, they’ll know whose cars belong there because they go there every day.” They will use two to four vehicles in the operation for assaulting, surveillance, blocking and switching cars. They use fake plates – a Car Max temporary license plate is one thing to look out for.
- You might think it’s a good idea to speed away from a store or your hotel as you leave, but if you do that you won’t be able to tell if someone is following you. Instead, slow down and go a couple miles under the speed limit. “The people who want to get where they’re going will pass you,” Aguilar says. “But if you keep looking back and seeing a vehicle going slowly behind you,” exercise caution.
- You’re at your most vulnerable point when you are getting into your car – either from your hotel or a restaurant stop along the way.
- If you are accosted, don’t fight back but do try to remember details about the robbery to aid in arrests.
- Travel in pairs and use security guards, if possible.
- Know your routes.
- Prepay gas for rental cars.