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Soapbox & Opinions

Stop feeding the thieves

Security is always top of mind for people in jewellery, yet it seems as though incidents of theft are at an all-time high.

In 2015, it felt like we were hearing about a different jewellery robbery taking place every day – I, myself, was at the heart of a somewhat high-profile ram-raid attack.

You may remember the incident as it created a bit of hype in the media, which was probably due to footage showing the brazen thieves driving a stolen car through the shopping centre where my store is located before ramming into the front fac¸ade. What’s worse, they did the same thing to another store in my area the very next morning.

When I got the call-out at 5:15 am, I was in total disbelief. My window only had a few watches and giftware items. This hardly represented an attractive prospect for thieves. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop two clever lads from deciding they could reverse the car up to my window, break through my shutter-roller door and park right in the store.

The theft resulted in about $33,000 of damage, about $15,000 in lost stock and, although we re-opened the following day, probably about $10,000 in lost trade – it took three weeks to have my window back up and running, in which time a lot of people just assumed I wasn’t back in business.

The incident marked my 14th robbery since commencing trade in 2001 and the three most recent happened during an 11-month period! I think it’s safe to say I have certainly had more than my fair share of thefts.

"Let’s band together and encourage shopping centre landlords to pick up the security slack so we can stop feeding the thieves."

At 66 years of age, it appears I’m not getting any younger or wiser; I’m just working exceptionally hard over extremely long hours to feed the thieves.

I wouldn’t blame readers for assuming the problem lies in my security measures or lack thereof; however, there really isn’t much more I can do.

A few years back I fitted a 1 cm safety-glass panel to the outside of an existing shutter door to double its strength after
a thief physically used his body weight to run through my fibreglass shutter. I didn’t stop there. After the smashing of two main windows in 2014, I fitted an aluminium auto-roller shutter to my main window.

I really did think my worries were over, especially given the fact my store is located in a ‘secure’ shopping centre at least 30 metres away from the nearest exit, which leads me to my next point – shopping centre landlords.

They sure gain a lot of attention regarding their often ruthless rental-pricing structures but what about their security measures?

When my neighbouring jeweller was hit with a ram-raid attack the day after mine, his shopping centre immediately installed temporary protection and was quick to upgrade that by installing steel bollards and making amendments to their entrances.

What about my centre? They have done nothing and don’t appear to have any plans to do so in the future.

As a result, I intend to approach the ACT Government about installing two bollards to block the walkway access at the rear of the shopping centre building. Although I have been told on numerous occasions that I am responsible for my own security, the landlord’s lack of care will most likely be the reason I walk away one day, even if it means breaking a lease.

I appreciate not all shopping centre landlords are negligent in their attention to security but given the increasing instances of reported thefts I would expect that many could do much more to provide support to business owners.

Perhaps it is our role as tenants to bring more attention to the issue. I would encourage those with concerns to raise their voices. Generating noise has had a huge impact on bringing about positive change with regards to negotiating retail leases so I don’t see why security would be any different.

I have recently upgraded my alarm system, main entry and window security, and will most likely improve my surveillance by installing one centrally-located HD unit in store and one on the external wall to provide better coverage of the public space. After this, I’ll be at a point where I can hardly go much further.

On a positive note, I’m not ready to give up on the jewellery industry and have high hopes for 2016. Let’s band together and encourage shopping centre landlords to pick up the security slack so we can stop feeding the thieves.

Name: Tony Peters
Business: Exquisite Jewellers
Position: Managing director
Location: Canberra, ACT
Years in the industry: 14

MGDL Distribution

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