Masked burglars heighten risk of theft at Jewellery stores

Leading jewellers including Tanishq, Kalyan Jewellers, Joyalukkas and Senco Gold & Diamonds have opened their showroom with one-third the normal staff, but fear is in the air as large showrooms have gold and diamond ornaments worth up to Rs 300 cr...

Jewellery shops have only one-third the staff and only masked men are allowed in. That heightens the risk of daylight robbery, and jewellers are jittery.

Leading jewellers including Tanishq, Kalyan Jewellers, Joyalukkas and Senco Gold & Diamonds have opened their showroom with one-third the normal staff, but fear is in the air as large showrooms have gold and diamond ornaments worth up to Rs 300 crore. Leading trade bodies have advised jewellers to think twice before opening showrooms.

“We are worried that there may be cases of looting jewellery shops. Everyone will be in mask as it has become mandatory in the post Covid-19 scenario. Earlier, there have been many cases that masked men looting jewellery shops,” Surendra Mehta, secretary of the India Bullion & Jewellers Association (IBJA) said. He has advised jewellers to assess if they will generate enough business in this period of economic uncertainty.


The risk is palpable for big jewellers. “The situation is quite scary,” said Joy Alukkas, chairman of the gold retail major Joyalukkas group said. "It will be difficult to identify who is a real customer and who is not. We will ask the customer to remove the mask and show his face on camera installed inside the showroom.

He said mid-sized showrooms of his firm kept jewellery worth Rs 70 crore to Rs 80 crore. He has asked employees at showrooms to closely observe the behaviour of people who enter the showroom.

Some jewellers said they have up to 30 high-resolution security cameras in showrooms. Among them some are either increasing the number of cameras or stationing more guards.
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“We have deployed more security guards outside our showrooms to keep a vigil on the movement of people in front of the showrooms,” said Suvankar Sen, executive director, Senco Gold & Diamond.

Ajoy Chawla, CEO, jewellery division at Titan Company Limited, said, "There is no compromise on the security at our stores. The security staff has been well trained and all the customer details get generated when they enter the store. The jewellery stock is showcased only on service trays and detailed inventory count is thoroughly checked before and even after sanitizing the jewellery.”

Chawla said the CCTV cameras installed in the stores have the latest technology. “With limited number of customers being allowed at the stores due to mandatory social distancing, the staff is always vigilant of any activity at any given time,” Chawla said.

The fear is greater in southern India, which accounts for 40% of India’s gold sales. “jewellery shops in the south are huge as people from this region love to buy gold. A 15,000 sq feet shop, which is common in South India, keeps gold jewellery worth Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore. A 5000- 6000 sq feet shop will have Rs 100 crore jewellery on display,” said Anantha Padmanabhan, chairman of the All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC).
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“We cannot always ask them to remove masks from their faces and look at the camera installed inside the shop to get a clear picture of their faces. They might not like such treatment, ” Padmanabhan said.

Mehta of IBJA the fear of infection from Coronavirus sticking to metallic surfaces for days was another concern. “So there is possibility that is any Covid positive person touches gold, then others can get infected too,” he said.
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Suvankar Sen, executive director, Senco Gold & Diamonds, said customers and sales staff were required to wear gloves for touching jewellery. “Once the customer chooses his favourite piece, he will be allowed to remove his gloves and then sanitise the hands before getting the feel of the jewellery.”

Last Saturday, Tanishq had announced its plans to reopen its 328 stores across the country in a phased manner. Chawla said hygiene standards were being rigorously followed. “A lot of detailing has gone into processes, checks and training of our employees,” he said.




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