A string of store thefts has hit the US jewelry industry of late, prompting many to suspect crime is on an upward trend. And with fears rising, a popular figure in the business is trying to get traders to pull together and prevent further incidents.
Aleah Arundale, founder of the Jewelers Helping Jewelers (JHJ) group on Facebook, believes the simplest fix is for jewelers to speak with their nearby competitors and create local groups of stores that can warn each other of dangers.
The topic has come further under the spotlight following a robbery in New York’s diamond district on Monday night, with criminals reportedly stealing $72,000 in jewels from three customers outside a store.
Members of Arundale’s 26,000-strong group have highlighted a spate of offenses in the past few weeks, including a chain of Romani (often called Gypsy) thieves engaging in various store crimes traveling around the country. They have moved from state to state on a daily basis, she reported.
“There is certainly a distraction-[theft] crime wave going on,” said Arundale, who runs Chicago-based wholesaler Olympian Diamonds. “We see money. We get distracted. If you’ve been to a magic show, sleight of hand is [legitimately] amazing.”
Arundale has set up a new Facebook group just about crime, and has been talking with trade bodies to help connect jewelers.
“The number-one thing you can do to be safer is to make a small text group of your five to 10 closest jewelers,” she added, attributing the idea to one of the JHJ members.
Two weeks ago, she said, a crook stole from around 20 stores in Michigan by simply going from jewelry shop to jewelry shop selling fake gold for hundreds of dollars. “If we had had a text chain, we could have just texted everybody and that would have prevented it,” she noted.
Insurance provider Jewelers Mutual Group confirmed that it had seen a rise in crime in the US and Canada this year. Jewelry industry crime has risen 14% year on year in 2022 and by more than 50% compared with 2019, a spokesperson for the company said, citing data from the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA).
The JSA was not immediately available for comment.
Image: Aleah Arundale. (Aleah Arundale)