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Dissing the diamond dogs.

Not all jewelry heists are as clever or funny as the Pink Panther's. The villains are usually gangs who roam from city to city picking on innocent jewelry stores, and if they don't get their way, they can get violent.

To combat this disturbing trend, the loss prevention departments at Sterling Jewelers and Zale Corporation decided it was time to get organized. They have joined forces with the FBI, local law enforcement, the Jewelers Security Alliance, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to start the Jewelry and Gem (JAG) Initiative, a nationwide crime crackdown program.

"Our goal is to support law enforcement," says George Slicho, vice president of loss prevention at Zale, which is headquartered in Irving, TX. They do this through training.

Participants learn how to track and identify stolen jewelry, tell the difference between a fake gem and the real thing, and identify a gem's individual characteristics. "We have a book we compiled with everything they need to know about gems--cuts, clarity, settings," Slicho says.

The officers learn about everything from mining to making customized jewelry. They leave the program with jewelers tools and manuals for reference.

Originally, only FBI agents were to be trained, but the program has grown to include sessions throughout the country for local law enforcement officers.

Slicho thinks one of the strongest aspects of the JAG initiative is the FBI's computer tracking system. Until now different jurisdictions had no way of comparing notes on jewelry crimes. "Suddenly we have one central data base for all this information," Slicho notes.

Since the program's inception in October 1991, armed robberies of Zale's stores are down 40 percent. The program's success has spawned the formation of an advance training course for FBI agents. The first one was held by the GIA in October.

Zale and Sterling cooperate with law enforcement in other ways, including providing expert witnesses and loaning merchandise for sting operations. "This is an ongoing working partnership," Slicho observes. "That is the best way to define it."
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Security Spotlight; jewelry industry's nationwide crime crackdown program
Publication:Security Management
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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