On Friday, February 27, 2015, at a press conference in Detroit, MI, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan announced the indictments of 17 suspects for smash and grab robberies of jewelry stores in six states: NY, MD, NC, MS, NE and CT. The press release stated that “The indictments follow a series of investigations around the nation by various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies involving approximately 40 smash and grab jewelry store robberies.” Authorities have also announced that they are looking for the public’s help in identifying 16 other individuals believed to be connected to additional smash and grab robberies.
John Kennedy, President of Jewelers’ Security Alliance, was asked to speak at the press conference, and he thanked the U.S. attorney, the FBI, the Oakland County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force, and the other law enforcement agencies that cooperated so effectively and who contributed to the success of this extremely important investigation. Kennedy stated that the Detroit based smash and grab crew had been the #1 threat to the jewelry industry for the last year and a half. He also said that federal involvement by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney was essential in this investigation since the crimes had happened all over the U.S., and that it was extremely difficult for a local law enforcement agency to address this problem by itself.
Kennedy announced that the industry was offering $45,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and convictions of suspects in the smash and grab cases. JSA itself pledged $10,000, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company pledged $25,000, and a consortium of industry firms pledged another $10,000. Kennedy asked that anyone with information should call JSA at 800-325-1883 and that the information could be received anonymously.
The press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that the JSA played a key role in these investigations by offering law enforcement agencies access to its database of jewelry and gem thefts.
FIVE SUSPECTS ARRESTED FOR THREE JEWELRY STORE ROBBERIES
November 4, 2014
Anton Lamont Brewer, 21, Lamar Keith Garvin, 49, Michael Richardson, 49, and Veronica Smith, 54, have all been arrested and convicted for their connections to three jewelry store robberies in Virginia. One robbery occurred in November of 2012 and the other two robberies occurred in February and March of 2013. They would enter the stores right before closing, display at least one firearm, and threaten everyone with violence before grabbing merchandise and fleeing. Richardson, Smith, and Garvin were sentenced on 8/15/14. Richardson and Smith both face 15 to 87 months, and Garvin faces 30 years. Brewer was sentenced on 11/4/14 and faces 12 years. Cedric Purnell Coleman, who is being held in Maryland on unrelated charges, also has connections to these crimes and will be tried later on.
BURGLARS BREAK THROUGH WALL, CUT OPEN SAFE
Irvington, NJ – November 2, 2014
Late on Sunday night burglars cut the phone lines, disabling the alarm, and then entered a retail jewelry store from the furniture store next door by making a hole in the wall shared with the furniture store. The burglars used a circular saw to cut through the jewelry store safe, taking a large quantity of gold and diamond jewelry.
For information on burglary prevention, see the recommendations on the bottom of this homepage.
SUSPECT RUNS WITH LOOSE DIAMONDS
Lancaster, PA – October 14, 2014
A black male suspect entered a retail jewelry store and asked to look at loose diamonds. As the sales associate was showing him some diamonds, the suspect grabbed the diamonds and fled. Witnesses reported that the suspect left in a mid-to-late-1990s purple/maroon Chevrolet Cavalier, possibly with a white license plate of an unknown state. If you have information, contact Detective Steve Newman at 717-569-6401 ext. 452.
SUSPECT SHOWS GUN, TAKES DIAMOND RINGS
Brea, CA – February 3, 2015
A suspect entered a retail jewelry mall store at 6:45 p.m. and asked to look at diamond solitaire rings. When the sales associate showed him a ring, the suspect lifted his shirt and took a handgun from his waist band. He demanded the ring and four more rings from the showcase. The suspect left the store and fled in white, mid-size sedan. The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male, 6’, 65-70 years old, possibly walking with a limp, and wearing eyeglasses.
SUSPECT PUTS SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND RING UNDER COAT
Annapolis, MD – February 19, 2015
At 10:10 a.m. a white male suspect entered a retail jewelry store. While the suspect was talking to employees, the suspect put a 5-carat sapphire ring surrounded by 15 diamonds under his coat. The suspect is described as mid-to-late-50s and 6’1.” He is reported to have left in a red Ford Focus with Florida license plates. If you have information, contact Detective John Murphy of the Annapolis Police Department at 410-268-9000 ext. 7268.
CRIME PREVENTION ADVICE FOR JEWELERS
WHAT TO DO IN A ROBBERY
Even if a jeweler follows all the right procedures to discourage robberies, the jeweler may still wind up a robbery target. JSA's main advice if you do have a robbery is this: Do not resist, and cooperate fully. For many years the JSA has promoted the following lifesaving guidelines on what to do in a robbery:
1. Obey the orders of the robber. Do not say or do anything, or even raise your hands, unless told to do so. Cooperate fully and try not to panic.
2. Do not attempt to disarm the robber or reach for a concealed weapon. Assume that the robber will shoot without hesitation.
3. Never do or say anything that would anger the robber. Example: do not stare at him and have him think that you are trying to memorize his facial characteristics.
4. The less time the robbers are in the store, the less risk there is of injury. Once the robbers have your merchandise, they can be expected to leave quickly.
5. Do not press a holdup alarm, if your premises has one, until the robbers have left the store and you have locked the door. If the police arrive while the robbers are in the store, or if the robbers return, a deadly hostage situation could develop.
6. Expect to be threatened. One of the robber's weapons is the fear he creates. Robbers commonly say: "I'll kill you if you make a move!" This is a typical threat. Expect it. Keep calm.
7. Frequently the robber will force the jeweler and his staff to a back room or washroom. Expect to be tied up or handcuffed, or told to lie on the floor. Do as you are told.
8. If you are out of the robbers' sight, in a back room or elsewhere, stay where you are. Do not intrude on the crime scene.
9. Do not chase the robbers or follow them out of the store.
10. Call the police immediately after the robbers leave and you have locked the door. Do not wipe or try to clean the cases or other surfaces, or otherwise disturb the crime scene before the police respond, because you may destroy fingerprints or other valuable evidence. Try to memorize all the locations touched by the robbers so that you can advise the police about possible fingerprint evidence when they arrive.
11. Try to keep witnesses present until the police arrive. At the least, obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.
12. Do not talk to the media or allow them to film in your premises. Refuse all media interviews.
13. It is important to rehearse with all employees what they should do in a robbery. Being prepared may help prevent an employee from panicking and provoking violence.
SMASH AND GRAB ROBBERY RECOMMENDATIONS
In 2014 a total of 110 smash and grab robberies of jewelry stores in the U.S. were reported to JSA, compared to 62 in 2013, a 77% increase. Jewelers can’t rely only on the great work by law enforcement to help with this crime problem. Below are some recommendations provided to jewelers by JSA to help reduce the smash and grab epidemic.
1. Showcases with burglary-resistant, laminated glass and special frames can withstand many blows with a hammer and can prevent or reduce large losses. JSA has not seen robbers take retaliatory action when laminated glass is used and robbers are unable to enter a showcase or are able to take only a small amount of merchandise from a small hole. Furthermore, robbers frequently cut themselves on small holes and leave behind valuable DNA evidence from blood.
2. Surveillance photos from eye-level cameras inside and outside the store provide excellent evidence for police.
3. Having buzzers on the door can help to keep out potential robbers.
4. Keeping a log book of suspicious incidents, and putting aside and saving surveillance video of suspicious incidents, can be a great help in subsequent investigations.
5. Sharing information and photos among jewelers and police, and with JSA, regarding casings and suspects can help prevent crime and assist with investigations.
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