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Victoria Police and industry groups are addressing the spate of jewellery store armed robberies. Image courtesy: Seven News/<em>Fairfax Media</em>
Victoria Police and industry groups are addressing the spate of jewellery store armed robberies. Image courtesy: Seven News/Fairfax Media

Police, jewellery industry combat armed attacks

Following a series of terrifying armed robberies across Melbourne, Victoria Police and industry groups have rallied to provide continued support to the jewellery trade.

One of the latest initiatives was a seminar held in conjunction with Victoria Police, the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA), the Gemmological Association of Australia (GAA) and the Gold and Silversmiths Guild of Australia (Guild).

The event, which took place at the Victoria Police Centre in Melbourne on 24 January, aimed to address the current crime situation in Victoria and educate jewellers on how to protect themselves, staff and businesses against armed robberies.

Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and National Industry Advisory Council councillor, helped to organise the seminar and said the recent heists taking place in Melbourne had resulted in a high level of concern within the jewellery industry and wider community. 

“What the police and industry are battling is in fact armed robbery. This is a completely different level of violence [compared to robbery and theft],” he explained.

Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and NIAC councillor
Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and NIAC councillor
About 200 people from the trade attended the seminar, which is notable when considering that the JAA’s traditional security information sessions held every few years receive about 30 to 50 people.

Guild president Tim Peel said it was important for all areas of the industry to collaborate on managing armed robbery.

“It’s critical that we respond to the situation as a whole industry so when Michael Oboler called asking for assistance, it made sense [for the Guild] to do everything that we could to inform our members and networks,” he explained.

GAA Victorian division president Margaret Blood also noted the need for the industry to work together.

“As one of the oldest educational providers to the jewellery industry in Australia, the Victorian division of the GAA felt it extremely important to unite as one at the recent security seminar in the fight against crime,” she said.

“We also wanted to provide a show of support both to those directly affected by the recent spate of incidents, and also to encourage everyone to band together along with Victoria Police, for a better and safer future in our industry.”

Peel said information communicated at the event included reminders for jewellers to review security measures, use time delay safes where possible, install HD cameras with off-site data storage and practice identifying people by describing appearances and distinguishing features.

“The insights from Victoria Police were very enlightening and reassuring as it gave us all an insight into how they respond to armed robberies and how their current investigations are being carried out and how they are progressing,” he added.

Ongoing efforts

Oboler also stated that those in attendance learned that the police were continuing to work in close liaison with the jewellery industry.

“The issue isn’t going to go away once they’ve solved this crime,” he said.

Oboler added that he attended a stakeholder meeting with Victoria Police following the seminar, whereby it was confirmed that police were further investigating the flow of information and how best to keep the Victorian community informed of crime patterns and trends.

A Victoria Police spokesperson told Jeweller that the organisation was “committed to continuing our collaborative and open approach to this issue”.

Oboler said the JAA was planning to hold follow-up information sessions.

Tim Peel, Gold & Silversmiths Guild of Australia president
Tim Peel, Gold & Silversmiths Guild of Australia president
“Our immediate plans for more seminars would be along the lines of workshops where there wouldn’t be more than 30 in a group,” he stated, adding, “The direction of these would be informed by feedback from those who attended the seminar.”

Crime increase

As previously reported by Jeweller, Melbourne jewellery stores have been targeted in a spate of violent attacks.

There were at least three incidents reported in January 2017 alone and, according to Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) data, the prevalence of jewellery store robberies in Victoria had increased quite significantly over the past few years.

The data showed that eight jewellery robbery offences were recorded between October 2015 and September 2016 – six of those were classified as armed robbery offences.

By comparison, two jewellery robbery offences were reported between October 2014 and September 2015 and there were zero between October 2013 and September 2014.  

Under the CSA offence classification structure, robbery falls under Division A – crimes against the person, and includes armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and robbery. Burglary falls under Division B – property and deception offences.

CSA data is based on the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program. Data is released quarterly, with the next dataset expected to be available 16 March 2017. 

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Thursday, 27 April, 2017 07:25am
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