Update for JAA Members and the Trade – June 2024

In March, Klepner’s, in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, was broken into at 5am. We failed to identify some basic errors and consequences of dealing with a robbery. 

Written by Jewellery World

Salient Lessons From a Robbery

In 2017, when there was a run of terrible robberies in Melbourne, I was the JAA Victorian state chair. After those events, I conducted seminars in country Victoria on security measures and earlier this year Klepner’s fell for some of the basic errors regarding security and dealing with the insurance consequences.

In March, Klepner’s, in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, was broken into at 5am. I have been the director of Klepner’s since 1977 and yet for all that time, we failed to identify some basic errors and consequences of dealing with a robbery. 

When I was alerted to the incident by the security monitoring company and looked at the cameras on my phone, the last cached image of the shop gave the impression that nothing had happened. The thieves had passed the front of the shop and were behind the cameras when they destroyed the boxes that relayed information back to base. It was like something out of a spy movie where fake security footage was substituted so the security monitors showed that nothing was happening. 

As the thieves gained entry by drilling the locks, the glass door was intact and nobody driving past would have been alerted to a problem as the front of the shop looked normal. Even my staff didn’t realise we had a problem until they tried to put the key in the lock the next morning and realised there were no locks. Of all the things that a thief can steal in a jewellery robbery, the last thing we considered was that they would take the camera recorder and destroy the back-to-base alarm system.

Lesson one: Don’t hesitate 

Even if you’re sure nothing seems to have happened, never tell the alarm company to put the alarm in test mode. Tell them to call the police. 

Lesson two: Be mindful of security system access

Always have the recorder and all the security hardware as far as possible from the workplace so that the security system functions correctly and you have pictorial evidence of the crime. After the event comes the problem of restoring the security and making the premises secure. We were lucky that we could get the services of a locksmith that afternoon.

Lesson three: Ensure insurance policies cover necessities until the premises is secure

We were worried that the thieves would come back. We were fortunate that an industry colleague allowed us to store our stock at their premises for two days whilst the security system was replaced. In the 48 years that I have been in the industry, I have never left the store with the safe wide open to show nothing was in the safe. A very odd feeling.

Lesson four: Don’t take the value of what is lying around for granted

Klepner’s has operated since 1935. We kept little draws containing our findings and fittings.  Being an antique store, those items included gold and silver old swivels, T bars, cufflink parts, butterflies, old bolt rings, bits of chain, seed pearls, pocket watch parts etc. 90 years of collecting. When we added it up and estimated the cost, those bits and bobs came to many thousands of dollars. However, the limitations on our insurance policy for “out of safe” meant we were hopelessly behind the 8 ball. 

Lesson five: Who is responsible for the door? 

We have a glass door with a metal strip on the top and bottom containing the locks. The metal strips were badly damaged during the robbery. The temporary locks barely secured the store. The insurance company rejected that part of the claim saying that the door is part of the building and as such the responsibility of the owners. The real estate agent advised we can claim on the landlord’s insurance though we need to pay the $2500 excess. Add that to our Jewellers Block policy excess and it is not worth claiming. So, we are out of pocket for the restitution of the door. 

Lesson six: The GST on the replacement of the stolen hardware

When the assessor sent us the settlement email, we noticed that the GST component on both the replacement of the security equipment and the painting of the store was deducted from the settlement amount. It was my understanding that as the end users we pay the GST. I was informed it is industry standard that the GST would be paid by the insurance company and that we claim it back. The point of this is one of cash flow. It doesn’t take much to make the GST component of a claim run into the thousands. This will impact our trading liquidity until the next quarter when we can claim back the GST. So, whichever way we look at this situation, we are out of pocket and impacted on so many other levels. 

Lesson seven: Review and practice your security protocols

We used the occasion to review our security protocols during business hours and reviewed our security words for “lock the door,” “call the police,” and “watch this customer.” We went over the procedure for using the panic buttons and how to react in an emergency. It is one thing to have the protocols but if not regularly drilled, panic and confusion can set in during an emergency. I can’t stress enough the importance of regularly practising safe room drills or your robbery protocols. Even something as basic as knowing where the panic buttons are or dropping to the floor in an emergency.

Lesson eight: Emotional impact on the staff

We were very lucky that this happened outside business hours and nobody was there. However, this still affected us emotionally. My manager and I realised we needed to do some team building immediately. As the workmen were putting in the new security system and we couldn’t trade anyway, we had a bonding session over a big slap-up lunch. It was important for everybody to know we had each other’s back and that their security and wellbeing were paramount. 

In so many ways we were lucky. They didn’t come back for round two. The safe was not broken into. None of the customer goods were taken. And most importantly, nobody was hurt.

Ronnie Bauer
JAA Director

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