360,000 AED Heist at Tiffany's Last Week Spurs Debate on Jewelry Store Security

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tiffany & Co's Flagship Store on 5th Avenue, New York

Jewelry retailers in the US and around the world can learn a thing or two from a little-known pawnshop in Harlem, New York. Especially after the premiered jeweler Tiffany & Co.'s store on 5th avenue was heisted last week, with 360,000 AED (98,000 USD) stolen and no suspects in custody.

According to police records, a man wearing a dark suit, a tie and a riding cap (a riding cap with a suit?), carrying an umbrella (in the summer?!) came into the store to inquire about two pieces of jewelry: a diamond-laden necklace worth 250,000 AED (68,000 USD) and another for 110,000 AED (30,000 USD). When the saleswoman turned around to calculate the price, the man stole the peices an ran out. 5th avenue in the summer is swarming with people and the thief was lost in the crowd. No Comment from Tiffany's.

EZ Pawn Shop, Since 1996 in NYC
When the EZ Pawn Corp employees saw the security camera footage of the heist (below), they were quick to notice why it happened. EZ has been in business for 66 years and they've learned a thing or two about keeping their store as secure as possible. Mattie Simon, the sales clerk at EZ, explains simple ways to reduce the chances of getting robbed:
  1. Customers can only buzzed in and out, making a getaway a lot less likely
  2. Hooded sweatshirts and caps are completely forbidden by management as the security cameras will not be able to see the perpetrator's face. In fact, when EZ owner David, or his daughter, Lauren Kaminsky see a hooded person in any of their 11 retail spots on their security monitor, they automatically call the store and flag the issue.
  3. Another one of Simon's tip seems completely ridiculous: look at a person's footwear. In her experience, if the shoes are tightly laced, then someone is looking to runaway 
  4. In the heist, the security guard had his back turned to the door which allowed the thief to run out, undetected. This is a huge No-No at EZ Pawn
  5. Only one item is shown to a customer at a time and there are no exceptions to this rule. Even if the customer is adamant on comparing two items in order to decide which one to buy. Better to lose a sale for the day than to lose an item forever. 
  6. Ring trays are also a huge problem as it's easy to snag piece while pretending to look at another.
  7. And last but not least: black coffee. When you hear a saleswoman at EZ Pawn asking for some black coffee with a heightened sense of urgency, you know something isn't right. Of course, no on is really asking for coffee. It's a code and once it's heard, a designated person will block the entrance. Some other codes they used: "Can you grab me a tissue?" and "Can you lower the AC?"
You'd think a renowned store like Tiffany's would have Guantanamo-style security but apparently not. As this heist proves, crimes can happen anywhere and at anytime (this happend in broad daylight) even in Dubai,  one of the safest places to live and that almost every inch of the city is monitored with CCTV cameras. That's why it's imperative for all stores, small and large, in Dubai or out, to stay vigilant and invest in high-end surveillance technology (the footage from the camera is so grainy!) They must also adopt smart tactics, like the "black coffee" code, that are effective and, best of all, for free!