Las Vegas Overwatch: Security Threats Foreign and Domestic
Our ongoing series to help you shop smarter at the Las Vegas Shows
Across the internet we are reading more and more about brazen burglaries of jewelry stores. The most recent is a band of thugs identified as being from Chile who will cut the power of a jewelry store, wait for the alarm battery back-up to expire, then break in and ransack the store. These guys are masters at breaking into TL30 safes and leave nothing behind when they leave. They immediately leave the country with their loot, only to return later on temporary tourist visas to do it all over again. Another occurrence of this was recently reported on a major Facebook jeweler’s group that showed the devastation that is done by these people.
During the discussions the importance of a quality alarm system was reaffirmed, as well as steps to insure the safest possible environment for the store inventory. Many of these points are worth restating here for my readers since no jewelry or gemstone dealer is immune from this kind of thing happening. It can happen anywhere, including while you are away shopping at the Las Vegas jewelry shows. Here are a few of the issues to address regarding your store safety:
- Make sure your alarm system is in compliance with requirements of your insurance policy. Things like battery back-up, wireless alarm connections, and UL certificates are an important issue to discuss with your agent to ensure you are covered for as many scenarios as possible.
- Double check the condition of your neighboring buildings. Empty store locations next door are a great place for the bad guys to work behind the scenes. Make sure your safes are not backed up to a wall of an empty space, and make sure you keep all valuables locked up at night, regardless of what threat level you may perceive.
- Double check the security level of your safe considering how much inventory is inside. Your insurance policy will normally require a certain level of safe depending on inventory. Make sure the shelves are welded inside, your alarm system has motion as well as entry, and that you have video cameras in place. There are wireless cloud uploads that can keep a video camera recording after the power is cut, make that investment.
- Answer all alarms…with the police there. Don’t try to go “John Wayne” when entering your store with an alarm sounding. And don’t go around brandishing a weapon. There are cases of jewelers getting shot by police who mistook the jeweler for an armed bad guy. Unless threatened with harm, keep that concealed weapon concealed.
Here a few pointers from an insurance adjuster’s desk that will help you maximize your coverage and minimize your losses after a fire or burglary:
- Make sure you understand your insurance policy coverage. What must be in the safe, what coverage you have for lost business, etc.… Go over your policy with your agent to make sure you fully understand your coverages and how claims will be handled.
- Video your complete store on a weekly basis and store that video off site. After a fire or break in it can be difficult to remember everything you had when the place is in shambles. Adjusters like to see video to be able to tell what the store was like before the event.
- Keep a back up of your store inventory, bookkeeping and invoices off-premises that you can access quickly in case of an event.
- Contact your insurance company immediately after an event. Since we have accepted liability for these situations there are issues we need to move quickly on regarding investigation, possible subrogation and salvage. The quicker we know about the event the faster we can help you.
Just a few ideas that might help. Above all, read and understand your policy. I experience far too many jewelers who never read their policy until an event happens, then start all sorts of commotion with the adjuster because they had no idea of coverage issues that left them exposed. Do this before the event happens.
When traveling in Las Vegas, get your major purchases shipped to your store. Don’t carry them with you unless you are sure of your insurance coverage to do so. Also, as soon as you leave a show, remove your show badge. Nothing will mark you as a target as quickly as walking around with a jewelry show identification badge around your neck. This may sound like simple common sense but it is, after all, Las Vegas. And what happens in Las Vegas does not always just stay in Las Vegas. A major loss due to theft from a hotel room will haunt you for a very long time if you are not properly insured to carry inventory with you.
Above all, always remember that there are bad guys out there, more right now than ever before. Don’t take chances and don’t take things for granted. It may seem like the other guy who always gets hit…until you walk into your store and find everything on the floor, except your inventory which is no longer in your store.
Be prepared for that before it happens.
Robert James FGA, GG
Property and Casualty Adjuster, Texas Department of Insurance #1300433
Member: National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters
President, Insurance Institute of Jewelry Appraisal Inc.
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