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‘Code Red’ Issued for Jewelry Stores as More Burglars Cut Power Lines

JSA has identified 50 such cases.

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The Jewelers’ Security Alliance issued a “code red” amid a string of jewelry-store burglaries in which the culprits cut power lines.

The organization said it has identified 50 cases of such burglaries at U.S. jewelry stores in 2019.

Among recent cases:

  • Scottsdale, AZ, police received information from the Santa Barbara, CA, police that a crew of suspected Chilean jewelry burglars was in the Scottsville area. Scottsdale police located the individuals and followed them to two jewelry stores. Police say the suspects cut power at the stores. The next night, police observed a person on the roof of a jewelry store that had its power cut. The store was found ransacked the next day. Police arrested the three suspects at a motel; they were in possession of stolen jewelry.
  • In Yorba Linda, CA, suspects cut the power lines to a jewelry store on a day when it was closed. The owners’ family came to check on the store and saw that the cameras and alarm weren’t working. They called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department after realizing they were about to be burglarized. Deputies staked out the store, with two deputies hiding inside. The suspects broke through the front door and smashed two showcases with a crowbar. Two of the four suspects were arrested.
  • In Leawood, KS, suspects cut the power to a jewelry store, pried open the rear door, and attempted to break into the safe, but were unsuccessful. The suspects then stole a large quantity of jewelry items from the showcase, and also took the computer hard drive. Police learned that four other Kansas City jewelry stores had their power cut on the same night around the same time. None of the other stores were burglarized.

If you have further information, contact JSA at 212-687-0328 or jsa2@jewelerssecurity.org.

Methods

  • Jewelry stores are targeted on weekends or on nights before a day the store is closed. Holidays, such as the Fourth of July, are also high-risk times.
  • Burglars access the outside electrical panel and cut off power to the store, disabling alarms and camera systems.
  • Burglars wait to see police or other response time, and then wait until police depart.
  • Burglars wait until backup battery power is exhausted.
  • Suspects reportedly tend to be Chilean burglary crews based in California and Florida, traveling throughout the U.S.
  • Suspects may cut through the roof or break into the jewelry store from a neighboring business, but also may break open or pry open front or rear doors.
  • Suspects may cut power to numerous jewelry stores in the same area and wait to observe response time and then identify the best target store.

JSA Recommendations

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  • Respond to any case of power interruption at your store.
  • Make sure that your call list at the alarm company includes the owner and enough employees who will be available to respond, including during vacations, weekend and holiday nights.
  • Do not respond alone. Have police accompany you.
  • Alert police that there may be burglars near the store watching to see the response to the power line cut.
  • Inspect your electrical box on a regular basis and report to police and JSA any sign of tampering, even if the power is not cut and no burglary occurred.
  • Have alarm protection for your store that covers all possible means of entry, including the roof and sidewalls.
  • Have line security to protect you if your alarm system is disabled.
  • The interior and exterior of the premises must be checked, including the roof and all possible means of entry.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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This 18K Gold Is Made With 25% Plastic

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Swiss researchers just unveiled a new type of 18-karat gold that’s made from 75% gold and 25% plastic, yielding super-lightweight, malleable material that weighs just 1/10th to 1/5th as much as the traditional alloy.

The team at ETH Zurich claims that the new lightweight alloy has the exact same lustrous qualities of traditional 18-karat gold, making it an attractive alternative for jewelry manufacturers and designers.

“Lovers of gold watches and heavy jewelry will be thrilled,” wrote Peter Rüegg on ETH Zurich’s official website. “The objects of their desire may someday become much lighter, but without losing any of their glitter. Especially with watches, a small amount of weight can make all the difference.”

The researchers believe that the new material will also be attractive to manufacturers because it is easier to work than traditional precious metals. The melting point of the new material is just 105° C (221° F), versus 1,064° C (1,943° F) for traditional 18-karat gold.

Gold purity is measured by its karatage, with 24-karat gold being 100% pure. Conventional 18-karat yellow gold is made from 75% gold and 25% other materials, such as copper and silver. Popular 14-karat gold is 14/24ths (58.3%) pure gold, and 10-karat gold is 10/24ths (41.6%) gold. Both 14-karat and 10-karat gold are commonly mixed with silver and copper.

With the new material, ETH Zurich scientists used a matrix of plastic in place of metallic alloy elements. Instead of weighing 15 grams per cubic centimeter, the new 18-karat material weighs 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter.

Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETH Zurich, explained how she and her colleagues used protein fibers and a polymer latex to form a matrix in which they embedded thin discs of gold nanocrystals. In addition, the lightweight gold contains countless tiny air pockets invisible to the eye.

Highlights of the process were recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

“This gold has the material properties of a plastic,” Mezzenga said. “If a piece of it falls onto a hard surface, it sounds like plastic. But it glimmers like metallic gold, and can be polished and worked into the desired form.”

The researchers also claimed that the hardness of the material may be adjusted by slightly altering the composition. The latex, for example, could be replaced by other plastics, such as polypropylene. Also, altering the shape of the gold nanoparticles will change the color from gold to violet.

While Mezzenga and her team see obvious applications for jewelry and watch manufacturers, the material also may be suitable for chemical catalysis, electronics applications or radiation shielding.

Credit: Image by ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg.

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717 US Jewelry Retailers Closed Their Doors in 2019

The number of closures is down significantly from 2018’s figure.

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The Jewelers Board of Trade reports that 717 U.S. jewelry retailers stopped doing business in 2019.

That’s down from 852 businesses that closed in 2018.

Of those, 589 fell into the category of “ceased operations,” while 110 were listed as “consolidations (sale/merger)” and 18 were classified as “bankruptcies.”

Meanwhile, 193 jewelry retail businesses opened their doors in the U.S. in 2019. That was up from 183 in 2018.

Counting wholesalers and manufacturers along with retailers, 900 U.S. jewelry businesses closed their doors in 2019. That’s compared with 1,013 in 2017.

The total number of jewelry retailers listed in the U.S. is now 18,613, compared with 19,198 at the end of 2018, according to the Jewelers Board of Trade.

The total number of jewelry businesses, including wholesalers and retailers, is 25,565, compared with 25,400 at the end of 2018.

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Tiffany Safely Moves 114,000 Gems for a Store Renovation

It’s refurbishing its 10-story space in Manhattan.

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Sunday was moving day for Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. And given the potential for theft, that meant a quick and highly secure operation.

The store temporarily moved a few dozen yards away as it renovates its 10-story space, The New York Times reports. For now, it’s occupying a former Nike store.

The company transferred 114,000 pieces of jewelry, according to The Times. Needless to say, that was millions of dollars of merchandise.

Tiffany had 30 security officers overseeing the move. New York City police officers were also on site.

The Times explains:

There were 300 cameras monitoring the Tiffany store and about as many in the temporary store, as well as a few more trained on the route along the sidewalk, that were live feeding monitors surveilled by other security officials in the two stores and at Tiffany’s distribution center in Parsippany, N.J.

Employees had been asked to keep plans for the move a secret. Tiffany took numerous other security precautions, according to the newspaper, such as monitoring social media for any hints of planned criminal activity.

Fortunately, everything went off without a hitch. When the store opened in its new location on Monday morning, not a single piece was missing.

Read more at the The New York Times

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