By David Sexton, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group
Editor’s Note: The following article from Dave Sexton of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group is written primarily for our industry’s traveling road warriors, the message is equally applicable to retail jewelers who may be traveling to meet clients or traveling to one of the many trade shows during the year. Good security depends on paying attention to your location, surroundings, and unusual circumstances. The Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” is also necessary for traveling with jewelry.
The most effective weapon against professional jewelry thieves is to be constantly alert and pay strict attention to details. Organized thieves observe people who work in the jewelry industry, waiting for someone to leave a premises with a suitcase, briefcase, or boxes of jewelry. Then, the thieves follow the individual until there is an opportunity to attack.
Follow these safety precautions from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group to heighten your awareness and safety on your next trip away from the office.
Before You Go
Extreme care needs to be taken when traveling with merchandise and materials as valuable as precious metals and stones. First, it is important to maintain a detailed inventory of merchandise that will be carried on the road. Keep one copy with the line and store a second copy in a separate, safe location.
Prior to departing, take time to research where you are traveling to locate public places where potential help, witnesses, and/or security surveillance are likely to be present as a crime deterrent. The locations may include police departments, banks, drive-through restaurants, and hotels. Do this for each location you will be visiting.
When heading out on the road, never leave without a fully charged cell phone and your charger. Stay in contact with your family or office when you are away, so they know where you are throughout the day. Just as important, stay in touch with the clients you’re visiting. You should keep your schedule confidential so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, but if criminals know where you’re going, it will help to ask your clients to pay attention to their surroundings for any suspicious activity. That way, they can alert you of any potential danger.
Another item you may want to arrange in advance is to leave your line at the last jewelry store you visit. This will permit you to safely exit the premise and relax for the evening. If possible, leave your line in the store’s safe or vault to provide the most protection.
Traveling by Car
If you must make a pit stop – no matter how quick — never leave your merchandise unattended, including your car or hotel room. That’s why it’s important to make sure the line you are carrying is manageable. You must be able to bring all of it with you into a restaurant, hotel, jewelry store, or any other location
If you will be traveling in your personal vehicle, it is important to remove all personalization pieces. Do not have personalized license plates, bumper stickers or decals from the dealership that sold you your car. Any of this personal information provides robbers with the opportunity to gain more information about you.
Consider equipping your car with an alarm that is approved by your insurance company and also “puncture-proof” or “run-flat” tires. While it could go without saying, make sure your vehicle is in excellent working condition.
When you rent a car, write down the rental car’s color, make, model and license number on an index card and keep the information in a handy place, such as in the car’s sun visor. If you feel that you are being followed, the police dispatcher will need that information.
Don’t develop predictable driving patterns; change your routes and departure and arrival times. Patterns and routines are something criminals will begin to watch, putting you at a higher risk when you are traveling.
It is essential that you are always aware of your surroundings when approaching your vehicle after a stop. Walk completely around your car and inspect all locks, windows, door frames, tail lights and tires every time you have parked your car to determine if anyone has tampered with your car. Check for fluids under your car. Be especially observant in parking ramps and lots.
After appointments at retail properties, give the store manager your cell phone number and ask him or her to watch you leave after your visit. If the store manager sees a car follow you, he or she should call you immediately and notify the police that you may be at immediate risk of becoming victim of an armed robbery. After every sales call, take evasive driving action such as driving slowly, speeding up, making left turns, or driving around the block, to determine if you are being followed.
If you happen to get a flat tire, a damaged radiator or become involved in a minor traffic accident or “car bumping,” assume you are the target of a crime. While driving to a safe location, such as the secure locations you identified prior to leaving the office, call the police and inform them of your situation.
Rehearse what to say to a police dispatcher in the event that you experience one of these car damages or notice a suspicious car following you. You must be concise and specific: “I believe that I am about to be the victim of an armed robbery.” When calling, be concise so you can direct the police to your location as quickly as possible. Know the street or road names, cross streets and direction you are headed.
Traveling by Plane
When traveling by air, similar to ground travel, never leave your merchandise unattended. Never check your jewelry merchandise as baggage, even if that means you have to reduce the amount of samples so that you can carry your line with you in a special attaché case. Jewelry checked as baggage may not be covered by insurance. There are very good reasons airlines warn travelers not to check their valuables.
At busy airports, contact security and request a private security screening. If that isn’t possible, approach the airport security checkpoint with caution. Do not place your line on the x-ray conveyor belt until the area is clear and no one can block you from walking through the metal detector to receive your screened line when it clears scanning on the other side. A common ploy involves one thief deliberately blocking you while his/her accomplice grabs your line as it comes off the belt.
When making your travel reservations, request an aisle seat on the plane. If possible, ask to board early when guests who need special handling are allowed to board and store your line under the seat in front of you. If your line does not fit under the seat, place it in the overhead bin so that you can clearly see everything that is taken out of that bin. Stay alert throughout the flight and retrieve your line as soon as the plane has landed and the flight attendant permits it.
The Bottom Line
Professional criminals are waiting for you to make a mistake while traveling. To increase your safety wherever you are traveling to and how you’re getting there, these four things are essential to keep in mind:
· Plan ahead
· Carry a manageable line
· Never leave your line unattended
· Assume you are a target
If you are confronted by a criminal, do as you are told and focus on your personal safety. Your line is not worth your life.
If you have questions about travel safety or the security offered by proper insurance coverage, get in touch with an expert agent. For more information on Jewelers Mutual email email@example.com.