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Police released CCTV images of a man they believe stole three diamond rings. Source: Victoria Police
Police released CCTV images of a man they believe stole three diamond rings. Source: Victoria Police

Jewellery thefts increase in Christmas lead-up

More than $150,000 in jewellery was recently stolen in three robberies that occurred across two days, which could act as a reminder for jewellers to be vigilant during the Christmas trading period.

On Monday 7 December, just before 7:00 pm, a man stole three diamond rings valued at $100,000 from a jewellery store located within a shopping centre on Little Bourke Street in Melbourne.

According to a police report, the man requested to view the rings – which were made from white gold and consisted of diamonds ranging in size from one to two carats – then, while talking to the assistant, grabbed the items and ran out of the store.

The man was believed to have run into a nearby street where he changed into different clothes, including a high-vis yellow vest. Police released CCTV images of the suspect but at the time of publication, the investigation was ongoing.

A Victoria Police spokesperson confirmed to Jeweller that there had also been no new developments in two other Melbourne jewellery thefts that took place on Tuesday 8 December.

The first robbery involved two thieves, a man and a woman, who broke into a pop-up jewellery store in Warrandyte at 3:30 am. Police reported the suspects stole “gems and stones” valued at more than $30,000.

Later that day, another brazen attack occurred in Prahran at around 4:10 pm when two armed men smashed into the backseat of a car to steal a backpack containing $20,000 in “gems”. The car had been stationary at a set of traffic lights at the time with the victims seated inside. 

The Victoria Police spokesperson added that the three cases were not linked.

Increased theft risk
Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director
Russell Zimmerman, ARA executive director

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman warned that retail theft would likely increase during the Christmas period, with Australian retailers expected to lose $1.4 billion in the six weeks leading up to 25 December 2015 due to stolen goods.

“Christmas is a prime time for thieves because with more people in shops, it allows more opportunity to slip under the radar unseen,” Zimmerman explained, adding that internal theft from staff was also possible.

Duncan Robertson, global services manager at security specialist Brink’s Australia, shared his tips with Jeweller on how to minimise the risk of in-store theft, which should act as reminder for local jewellers.

“After removing an item from a display case, lock the case immediately and remove the key,” he recommended. “Present one stone or piece of jewellery at a time, especially when showing them to new clients, and weigh any stones immediately after a client has handled them.”

Robertson also suggested keeping viewing tables clean and neat – “Don't let anyone place any paper on the table or any bag under it” – and installing CCTV cameras to deter thieves and record any incidents.

Duncan Robertson, Brink’s Australia global services manager
Duncan Robertson, Brink’s Australia global services manager

“When unknown clients arrive at your shop, increase your awareness and make sure you are not distracted,” he advised. “Don’t let anyone touch your merchandise without your permission and work in accordance with your insurance policy’s rules.

“Don’t look for the [jewellery] switch or theft. Look for the signs indicating to it.”

The recent Melbourne raids add to the arguably high count of jewellery robberies that have occurred in the past year.

Some of the more memorable incidents reported include the “ram-raid” burglaries that occurred in Canberra, Perth and New Zealand, where cars were used to smash through the facades of jewellery stores; a series of armed jewellery store thefts that occurred on the same Melbourne high street; and a case similar to the recent Prahran theft where two jewellery suppliers seated in a car – also in Melbourne – were attacked by thieves who smashed their windows to steal backpacks containing $700,00 in diamond and gold jewellery.

More reading
Armed attack on overseas jewellery suppliers
Ram raid jewellery burglaries catch on in NZ
Jewellery ‘ram raids’ head across country
Jewellery stolen in ‘ram-raid’ burglaries
Thieves target jewellers in same street
Armed thieves target ‘high street’ jewellers
Terrifying, armed attack on jewellery store


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