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Victoria Police and the JAA have vowed to protect the trade from jewellery attacks
Victoria Police and the JAA have vowed to protect the trade from jewellery attacks

Vic Police, JAA pledge clampdown on Melbourne jewellery attacks

With the spate of jewellery store armed robberies continuing across Melbourne, Victoria Police and the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) have reiterated a commitment to protecting the trade.

Victoria Police acting inspector Martin Bourke said police understood that the rise in the number of jewellery store robberies in the past 12 months had caused fear and concern amongst jewellers and the wider community.

“All incidents are subject to thorough, ongoing investigations and Victoria Police is investing significant resources to reverse this trend,” Bourke, who is local area commander of the Stonnington region where several attacks have taken place, told Jeweller.

“With the rise in offending, we have escalated our response and in the past 12 months, police have arrested and charged over 30 individuals in relation to this offending,” he added.

As part of the continued efforts, a meeting organised by Victoria Police and the JAA was held in Melbourne on 6 June.

Bourke said jewellery business owners and staff from about 50 stores located in the capital city attended the event.
“The forum was held as part of Victoria Police’s ongoing commitment to industry leaders, including the JAA, business owners and major shopping centres to keep them informed and provide advice on crime prevention measures,” he explained.

“It was an opportunity to share information like how businesses and shopping centres can enhance their security and to update industry stakeholders on the police investigative response to the issue.”

Further support
Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and NIAC councillor
Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and NIAC councillor

Michael Oboler, JAA Victoria and Tasmania state committee chair and National Industry Advisory Council councillor, said the meeting included a discussion on the CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) strategy.

“CPTED is basically what the banks used to combat the robbery problem years ago,” Oboler explained. “It makes people aware of their environment and could include, for example, having roller shutters at the front of the store that would close if the business was under attack or having the local council install bollards in front of a store so that a vehicle couldn’t be used for a ram raid.”

Oboler said the forum was the sixth industry meeting organised this year and that the JAA would continue to educate the trade as long as there was a “need”.

“The whole purpose of the meeting was to instil confidence – to inform jewellers that they can approach and talk to their local police station,” he stated, adding, “Victoria Police are trying to feed information to us all the time in order to keep us up to date. They are relying on us to get the information out and we are using various methods such as email and SMS to keep people rapidly informed.”

According to Oboler, it was crucial for jewellers to stay abreast of industry updates and attend organised information sessions.

“We really stress the importance of keeping on top of information, particularly for those in Melbourne,” he said. “There are continual updates and information becoming available, and much of this is communicated at the meetings that we hold so we do encourage the trade to attend these when they can.”

Bourke added that retailers needed to consider how security could be enhanced, stating that store-specific advice could be received by contacting a Victoria Police Crime Prevention Officer and that information was also available in the Victoria Police Business Security Information Kit
“The value of high-quality CCTV cannot be overstated,” Bourke said. “It is of immense investigative and intelligence value to Victoria Police.”

Retailer confronts crime
Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds managing director
Garry Holloway, Holloway Diamonds managing director

Garry Holloway, owner of Melbourne-based Holloway Diamonds, has also announced a number of attempts to address the current crime situation.

Holloway, whose stores in Canterbury and Brighton have been targeted three times this year, has donated $5,000 to Afri-Aus Care, which provides support services to migrant youth from African and other CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) backgrounds.

In a post on the Holloway Diamonds Facebook page last month, Holloway wrote: “We donated $5,000 to help rehabilitate Sudanese kids who have been robbing us. It is not because I forgive them … the current system is not working, so I looked for a different approach.”

Further, Holloway made the novel suggestion that jewellers unable to afford a full-time security guard could share the cost with another store to employ one of African descent.

He made the proposal on the JAA industry Facebook page and even offered the name of a potential security guard who was once on the “wrong side of the law” and now volunteered for Afri-Aus Care.

The current efforts follow reports of about 12 brazen armed robberies occurring at Melbourne jewellery stores located on high streets and in shopping centres over the past 10 months – at least nine of those have taken place this year.

In addition to Holloway Diamonds, several businesses including IMP Jewellery in Toorak and H&H Jewellery in Elsternwick have been hit multiple times.

More reading
Holloway Diamonds thwarts armed robbery with tight security
Michael Hill jewellers hit by 20-second armed robbery
Police, jewellery industry combat armed attacks
Melbourne jewellery stores under attack

Ellendale Diamonds Australia

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